Daily briefing: Trump’s secret Putin meeting, China’s WhatsApp disruption, Saudi palace intrigue

US president held a second private encounter with his Russian counterpart at the G20 summit in Hamburg

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The drip drip of Trump Russia revelations continues. Donald Trump held a second, private encounter with his Russian counterpart at the G20 summit in Hamburg. The discussion was not disclosed despite the intense scrutiny of the first, official meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. The White House said there was “no second meeting” between the two leaders and dismissed the exchange as “small talk”, but other attendees were reportedly “flummoxed and startled”. Experts in US-Russia relations said the length of the encounter and the lack of a note taker or aide was a concern. 

Another controversial Trump meeting has also been in the news. Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met Donald Trump Jr after his father won the 2016 US Republican presidential nomination, has said she is ready to testify to Congress to dispel what she called “mass hysteria” about the encounter. Her offer came after the list of people at the meeting expanded to include Irakly Kaveladze, a Russian-born financier who was representing the Russian family that had arranged the meeting. (FT, WaPo, NYT, Reuters)

In the news

French military chief resigns
General Pierre de Villiers, France’s most senior military chief, has quit after condemning president Emmanuel Macron’s plan to slash €850m from the military budget, saying it was endangering the country. (Politico.eu) 

WhatsApp disruption in China
Chinese WhatsApp users are facing service disruptions that could mean China’s Great Firewall — its online censorship apparatus — is closing in on Facebook’s last functioning product in the country. Many users must now use virtual private network (VPN) software that can circumvent the firewall. (FT) 

BBC owns up 
The British broadcaster has admitted that only one-third of its top talent is female. A publicly funded corporation, it is bracing itself for a row over the salaries of its top talent and its lack of gender balance as it prepares to publish the names of its presenters earning more than £150,000 a year. (FT)

Turkish schools drop Darwin
Turkey’s new school curriculum drops the theory of evolution and adds the concept of jihad as patriotic in spirit. The move has fuelled fears that populist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is subverting the republic’s secular foundations. (Independent)

Song of the summer
Despacito by Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi has become the most-streamed song of all time. The Spanish-language single has been played 4.6bn times across all streaming services. Its popularity confirms the importance of Latin America in the fast growing digital streaming industry. (BBC, FT)

The day ahead

US-China trade talks
Senior US and Chinese officials will meet in Washington to discuss economic and trade issues in a new format, as agreed by presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping in April. The meeting will be the first since the two countries’ 100-day action plan deadline has passed. (Brookings)

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

What we’re reading

Intern Extravaganza
People used to come to Silicon Valley because they were geeks who couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Now, as one intern put it: “This is the place to go”. The FT’s Hannah Kuchler experiences Internapalooza, where young graduates vie for highly paid tech internships and merchandise. (FT)

Corporate Japan’s final frontier
Japanese companies are spending some of their $2bn cash reserves in space. From start-ups that clear space debris to companies launching micro-satellites, corporates are looking to the skies as a place to invest. (NAR)

Stitched up by robots
Experts warn that the automation sweeping through established industries will undermine the economic model of large parts of the developing world — and the textile sector is especially vulnerable. (FT)

Trump’s Russian laundromat
A good read on how Russian mobsters have indirectly funded Donald Trump over the years. It’s not conclusive evidence of any crime but it shows how Russian investment in Mr Trump’s businesses and properties has helped buoy his personal wealth — and to propel him into the White House. (New Republic)

Saudi palace intrigue
It was billed as a seamless transition. But new reports show that Mohammed bin Salman’s promotion to crown prince of Saudi Arabia last month was in fact a plot that involved Prince Mohamed’s uncle and predecessor being held in a palace and pressured to relinquish his title. There are fears that the young prince’s rapid rise could threaten stability in the volatile Gulf region. (NYT)

Video of the day

Is the Vix still a meaningful indicator?
Miles Johnson, the FT’s global investment editor, explains how investors appear worried about market risk complacency as expressed by a low volatility index. (FT)

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