Trump’s dossier debate, Obama says goodbye and strange diplomacy
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Claims that Russia has compromising information about President-elect Donald Trump are making waves across the world. The allegations — many of which are salacious — are contained in a dossier that spilled out into the open on Tuesday, just 10 days before Mr Trump’s inauguration. An US official described the author of the report as consistently reliable and well-informed. Intelligence agencies considered it so potentially explosive that they decided Barack Obama, Mr Trump and congressional leaders needed to be told about it. The president-elect responded via his usual medium, writing: “A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT”.
The publishing of the dossier in its entirety by the BuzzFeed newsite has also prompted a debate about journalistic ethics. Many journalists who have been critical of Mr Trump criticised the irresponsible journalism. BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith took to Twitter to defend his decision. Here’s his Tweet:
(FT, BuzzFeed, WaPo, Guardian, NYT)
In the news
German anti-terror crackdown Germany is to toughen rules on removing failed asylum-seekers and strengthen its monitoring of extremists in response to last month’s attack in Berlin. The government in Berlin is also considering an overhaul of the country’s security apparatus. The Berlin attacker was revealed to be a Tunisian who had been jailed a number of times in Italy and had changed his identity 14 times after arriving in Germany. (FT)
Obama says goodbye The outgoing president gave his farewell speech in Chicago, calling the presidency the honour of his life. “I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than when we started,” he said. Confirmation hearings for the incoming cabinet also continued on Tuesday, with Senator Jeff Sessions questioned at an at-times contentious session. (Guardian, FT)
Samsung leader questioned Special prosecutors in Korea are questioning Samsung vice-chairman Jay Y. Lee over suspicions of bribery in the widening scandal surrounding President Park Geun-hye. (Reuters)
Saudi Arabia diversifies The country plans to follow its record-breaking debut on global debt markets with an Islamic bond issue in a sale that could come as early as February. “Diversification is natural for any emerging market, but the fall in oil prices have made it a necessity for exporters like Saudi Arabia,” one expert said. (FT)
End of an era in Japan The government in Tokyo is considering a framework to allow 83-year-old Emperor Akihito to abdicate on the first day of 2019. As well as ending his reign, the abdication ceremony would usher in a new era in the imperial calendar. The last time a reigning Japanese monarch gave up the throne was in 1817. (NAR)
It’s a big day for
Trump’s possible conflicts of interest The president-elect is expected to hold a long-delayed press conference — his first since the election — where he has said he will address his many potential conflicts of interest. The dossier allegations are likely to make it even more closely watched. (Vanity Fair, Atlantic)
Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s WeekAhead.
Food for thought
How Obama saved the US economy The FT’s Martin Wolf on the president’s legacy: “In all, the administration rescued the US economy and bequeathed a sound foundation for its successor to build on. But it made a big mistake: it did not go all out to punish those whose malfeasance and irresponsibility blew up the financial system and economy.” (FT)
Where’s the beef? Australian beef has never been so popular or in such demand. But the sector has become a source of friction where the need for investment and the drive for new markets rub up against a fear of the foreign. (FT)
Scoop of the century Young reporter Clare Hollingworth was on the road to Poland, when the wind lifted a tarpaulin the Germans had erected to screen the valley below from view. Through the opening, she later wrote, she saw “large numbers of troops, literally hundreds of tanks, armoured cars and field guns”. That was August 28 1939. Days later, Hitler invaded Poland, marking the start of the second world war. Ms Hollingworth has died aged 105 in Hong Kong. (NYT, FT)
Strange diplomacy Who is behind the posts on the social media accounts of embassies around the world? Russia’s embassy in the UK, Spain’s embassy in Australia and even France’s embassy in the US are examples of those dipping diplomatic toes into bizarre waters lately on Twitter with the use of GIFs, the Simpsons and alt-right mascot Pepe the Frog. (Foreign policy)
Neanderthals are humans too New research shows that Neanderthals shared many traits that were believed to be uniquely human. Examining why we got them so wrong raises uncomfortable questions over how our assumptions affect science. (NYT)
Video of the day
The market minute FTSE 100 companies rally on their foreign currency earnings, the Turkish lira plummets to a record low and the Mexican peso languishes. The Nasdaq biotech index is enjoying a strong new year’s start, but not everyone is convinced this will last. (FT)
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