Daily briefing: Trump under fire, Disney hack, accelerationism

Republicans add to criticism over intelligence-sharing with Russia

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The clamour over Donald Trump’s latest mis-step is growing. Republicans have added their voices to criticism of the US president after reports that the he shared classified information with the Russian foreign minister and Moscow’s ambassador during their meeting in the Oval Office last week. Mr Trump revealed details of an Isis plot, breaching the trust of the unnamed ally that gathered the information, the Washington Post reported. He “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies”, one US official said. 

Tass photo of Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, left, President Donald Trump and Russian ambassador to the US Sergei Kislyak in the Oval Office

There was bipartisan outcry on Monday even as the White House scrambled to deny that any intelligence sources, methods or operations had been revealed. US national security adviser HR McMaster also challenged the reports, insisting: “I was in the room, it didn't happen.” How bad is it if confirmed? Mr Trump’s disclosure does not appear to have been illegal — the president has the power to declassify almost anything. But it could wreak deep and enduring damage on vital intelligence-sharing by US allies. Russia has entered the fray, with a foreign ministry spokeswoman telling Mr Trump that he shouldn’t read American newspapers. “It’s not just bad for you, lately it’s been dangerous.” (FT, WaPo, BBC, NYT, Guardian)

In the news

Hackers ransom Disney film
First WannaCry hit computers around the world, then criminal groups repurposed a second classified cyber weapon — known as EsteemAudit — stolen from US spies. Now comes the news one of Disney’s forthcoming movies is being held for ransom by hackers. The company did not name the film but journalists in Hollywood have reported that it is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Meanwhile, two security companies say they have found evidence linking last weekend’s cyber attack to North Korea. (FT, BBC, Guardian)

European court deals Brexit blow
A ruling by the European Court of Justice that a trade deal with Singapore must be signed off by all European states could complicate any deal the UK does with the bloc after Brexit. The decision means that all 27 remaining states will have to endorse any deal the UK agrees with the EU, potentially slowing down or even preventing a trade pact. (FT) 

EU’s ‘New Silk Road’ concerns
Xi Jinping has sought to allay fears among China’s neighbours that its ambitious Belt and Road scheme linking the country to central Asia, Europe and Africa will undermine other regional integration initiatives. But the EU, wary of the project’s transparency and sustainability, has refused to endorse part of the vast plan, and Russia and India remain leery of Beijing’s intentions. (FT, Guardian, NAR)

Brazil nuts in crisis
The world is on the verge of a Brazil nut crisis after a severe drought in the Amazon rainforest hit supplies. Scientists fear that climate change is exacerbating adverse weather conditions, while deforestation is threatening the supplies of the nut, which only grows in pristine areas. Its price has jumped 61 per cent from the start of the year. (FT)

‘Trump-proofing’ Nato
Donald Trump will make his first appearance at the annual Nato meeting on May 25, and officials are reportedly scrambling to “avoid taxing” his “notoriously short attention span”. That includes telling heads of state to limit talks to between two and four minutes. One anonymous source said: “It’s like they’re preparing to deal with a child.” (Foreign Policy)

The day ahead

French politics
Newly-elected president Emmanuel Macron will name his cabinet. (Reuters)

US-Turkey relations 
Donald Trump’s embrace of authoritarian strongmen continues with the visit of Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday. Here’s Gideon Rachman on how Turkey’s slide into a repressive autocracy serves as a warning to American citizens. (FT)

Walmart
The US retail group reports its results, and investors will be watching whether ecommerce growth — up 29 per cent last quarter — continues apace. Here’s Ed Luce on how the Trump administration has no plan to address what is probably the country’s greatest economic challenge: the death of US retail. (FT)

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

What we’re reading

Carving up Syria  
A Russian-brokered plan to divide the war-torn country’s battlefields into “de-escalation zones” to end the six-year civil war risks setting off an international struggle for influence that could result in partition. And as the powers squabble over their spheres of control, civilians bear the brunt of the ongoing violence. In the latest incident, the US-led coalition is accused of killing 40 civilians in a strike in eastern Syria. (FT) 

Iran’s divisive elections 
Iranians go to the polls on Friday in a presidential election pitting the centrist government of Hassan Rouhani against a hardline rival. The campaign, which has focused on inequality and corruption, has exposed Iran’s deep divisions and could determine the country’s direction over the next few decades. One prominent hardline candidate, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, has withdrawn from the race to avoid splitting the conservative vote. (FT)

Hassan Rouhani © AFP

Tech and the health revolution
As healthcare costs around the world spiral, systems need a productivity revolution to avoid implosion. Despite last weekend’s cyber attack, technology provides the best solution, writes the FT’s John Thornhill. (FT)

Accelerating the future
Imagine that technology and capitalism shift into a higher gear and speed up to cause the maximum disruption. That is the premise behind accelerationism, a fringe philosophy that went from a plot strand in a science fiction novel to an intellectual movement that is gaining influence around the world. (Guardian)

How much is wildlife worth? 
Conservation works best when wildlife has an economic value, say biologists comparing the conservation records around the world. Nature-tourism destinations in east, central and southern Africa, led by Botswana, dominate the list of high performers. (Economist)

Video of the day

A new way to dine
From the FT Business of Luxury Summit in Lisbon, Nuno Mendes, the Portuguese executive chef at Chiltern Firehouse, talks to FT editor Lionel Barber about turning dining into an experience, appealing to millennials and Portugal’s recovery.

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