Daily briefing: Guam strike plan, Venezuela arrests, Silicon Valley’s rediscovery of LSD

North Korea strategy ready by mid-August

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Just as US officials were trying to play down President Donald Trump’s headline-grabbing “fire and fury” threat, North Korea has raised tensions again. Pyongyang said it would have a missile strike plan for the US territory of Guam ready by mid-August. Amid the war of words, here are seven potential scenarios for how the tensions could play out.

In the US, concern over Mr Trump’s unscripted threat has dominated headlines. Jonathan Chait, a liberal writer, argues that official attempts to row back on the president’s comments amounts to the US basically saying “ignore our crazy president”. Robert Bateman says that he is watching James Mattis, on the assumption that if the defence secretary resigns, it will be a sign that he has refused to carry out an ill-conceived order to go to war. Given the bombastic rhetoric on both sides, here’s a quiz testing whether you can tell who said it: Donald Trump or Kim Jong Un? (NYT, FT, Guardian, NYMag, Esquire, Quartz)

In the news

Venezuela arrests
The country’s supreme court has ordered the imprisonment of a mayor from the Caracas area for not ending anti-government protests in his area. He is the fifth opposition mayor to be imprisoned in the past fortnight. His sentence came as the US imposed a new wave of sanctions on key figures supporting President Nicolás Maduro. (Jazeera, Reuters)

Altice lines up $185bn pitch for Charter
The deal-hungry cable and telecoms group controlled by Franco-Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi is lining up a potential $185bn bid for Charter Communications, the second-largest US cable company. It would be the latest in a series of consolidation moves among US telecom, cable and media providers. (FT)

Lego replaces chief executive
Only eight months after it appointed its first non-Danish chief executive, the Danish toymaker has brought in a new, younger replacement. 51-year-old Niels Christiansen will take over on October 1 as the company adjusts to the increasingly digital world of play. (FT)

China sends unhackable transmission
Chinese scientists have sent the first quantum transmission from earth to an orbiting satellite, marking another key step in the creation of an “unhackable” global communications network. (FT)

The Facebook IPO that nearly wasn’t
Facebook executives considered scrapping its May 2012 initial public offering as doubts swirled around its revenues. The revelation came during testimony in a class-action lawsuit against the social network by investors including the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System. (FT)

Toshiba’s travails
PwC Arata, the Japanese group’s auditor, has partially approved its fiscal 2016 accounts, showing that it had a negative net worth of ¥552bn. The qualified approval provides some relief for Toshiba — which has been scrambling to plug huge losses in its US nuclear power unit — but it needs to raise more funds to avoid delisting. (NAR)

The day ahead

Snap reports
Shares in the owner of the messaging app have plunged since its debut in March. Snap is prone to big moves after releasing its earnings and is expected to report a loss for its second quarterly result. (Forbes)

EU weighs in on Kenya poll
The bloc will release its initial report, compiled by the 130 members of the EU observation mission, on the Kenyan election. (The Star)

What we’re reading

Inside China’s crackdown on dealmakers
This long read explains why some of China’s best-known and most well-connected private companies are being humiliated by Beijing. As more than $1tn left the country over the previous 18 months amid a flurry of large overseas acquisitions, the party this year began to rein in some of the worst excesses of a mergers-and-acquisition boom that could have damaged China’s economy and reputation. (FT)

Did we let the financial crisis go to waste?
A decade on from the global credit crunch, this piece argues that attempts to build a fairer world off the back of economic catastrophe have failed. “With Brexit looming, a lot’s changed in our politics. But when it comes to our economy, things simply haven’t changed anywhere near enough.” The FT data team shows that UK is not alone in grappling with the fallout from the crisis. (Guardian)

How Silicon Valley rediscovered LSD
A young generation of tech entrepreneurs is microdosing LSD, in the belief that dropping acid makes them more creative. They are aiming to make psychedelic drugs as acceptable as coffee. (FT)

Dangers of the digital home
The FT’s Edwin Heathcote looks at the dark side of the ‘internet of things’: “Our houses are being possessed. And the 21st century’s evil spirits are the ghosts controlling our machine.” (FT)

Marauding monkeys neutered
Squeezed out of nearby jungles, long-tailed macaques have wreaked havoc at Thailand’s largest navy base. They have chewed through telephone cables, broken into offices, and even dragged rocks on to roads to slow down trucks so they can jump aboard for food. But now, as the monkey population swells to 10,000, sailors are fighting back — using a simple medical procedure. (WSJ)

Video of the day

The billionaire space race
John Thornhill investigates whether big government or big business will fund the future of space exploration in this short documentary. (FT)


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