Listen to this article
Sign up to receive FirstFT by email here
A series of explosions has rocked popular tourist sites in southern Thailand overnight, killing four people and wounding dozens more, say police. Thai officials say attacks appear to have been co-ordinated but they have ruled out the involvement of foreign terrorists, and say they were acts of “local sabotage”.
Thais voted to expand the powers of the country’s military junta in a controversial referendum earlier this week, and the attacks may have been a reaction to the result.
Separatist insurgents in the deep south of Thailand have for years mounted a localised bombing campaign, but so far have avoided targeting tourist areas so heavily. (NYT, FT)
In the news
Phelps smashes ancient record American swimmer Michael Phelps won his 22nd career gold medal in spectacular fashion on Thursday, demolishing his rivals in the 200m individual medley. Rio is the fourth straight Olympics Phelps has taken gold in the event. He has now broken an ancient record held by Leonidas of Rhodes since 152BC. (Time, NYT)
Italy in the doldrums Unexpectedly weak economic data released on Friday revealed the country’s economic recovery has stalled. The slowdown could jeopardise Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s constitutional referendum this autumn. (FT)
US indices hit record high A trifecta of benchmark US equity indices hit record highs on the same day for the first time since 1999, as investors — hampered by a growing world of negative yielding debt — turn to US stocks in a hunt for yield. The S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite all closed at record levels on Thursday, buoyed by a surge in oil prices and a string of better than expected results from several of the country’s department stores. (FT)
Unsealing Trump’s divorce News organisations in the US are attempting to get records of Donald Turmp’s 1990 divorce unsealed to prove whether or not he was accused of sexual assault by his ex-wife. Meanwhile, his opponent, Hillary Clinton, pledged to go on an infrastructure spending blitz as she laid out her economic agenda. Whether she’ll be able to overcome divisions in Congress to achieve her plans is another question. (Politico, FT) Keep up with the 2016 race by signing up for our daily US politics newsletter here.
IMF to loan Egypt $12bn Cairo hopes the extra finance will restore confidence in the Arab world’s largest economy, which has been struggling since the revolution in 2011. The Egyptian government has agreed to implement a series of reforms, including a devaluation of the Egyptian pound and a reduction of some subsidies. (FT)
It’s a big day for
Burundi The UN Committee against Torture (CAT) will present its report on the east African country. Four lawyers who testified to the UN about alleged torture were threatened with disbarment earlier this week. (Reuters)
China-India relations Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi arrives in India for a series of bilateral talks. (Times of India)
Food for thought
Milk industry cowed A big drop in Chinese demand for milk products has led prices to fall and forced dairy farmers around the world to cut production and sell their bovines. Prices are not expected to recover until next year at the earliest. (FT)
400-year-old sharks Scientists used carbon dating — based on fallout from the nuclear bomb tests of the 1960s — to carbon date the eyes of Greenland sharks and discovered that some of them may have been born when the Mayflower sailed, just after Shakespeare’s death. (Atlantic)
The art of the Irish pint The pubs of Dublin have a dirty little secret: the “young fellows behind the bar” can’t pull a proper pint. It is a skills problem and the beer aficionados of the Emerald Isle aren’t about to let the situation continue. (FT)
The unravelling of the Arab World A five-part series that looks at the fractured Middle East since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 through the eyes of six characters in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. (NYT)
Birth control salons Guinea is mobilising its hairdressers to dispense contraceptive advice. The country has one of the lowest rates of contraceptive use in the world, and the initiative hopes to improve family planning awareness in urban areas. (Guardian)
Video of the day
Libya’s $100bn loss Conflict, political infighting and Isis attacks have dented Libya’s oil industry. But there are hopes oil production will rise, after rival leaders agreed to unify the state oil group. Mustafa Sanalla, chairman of the National Oil Corporation of Libya talks to the FT’s Anjli Raval. (FT)