December 19, 2017 / 12:22 PM / 5 months ago

Tuesday Morning Briefing

The United States blames North Korea for the “WannaCry” cyber attack earlier this year, Congress is set to vote on the largest tax overhaul in decades and authorities in Myanmar remain silent about the whereabouts of two detained Reuters journalists.

First responders are at the scene of an Amtrak passenger train which derailed and is hanging from a bridge over the interstate highway (I-5) in DuPont, Washington, U.S., December 18, 2017. REUTERS/Nick Adams

United States

An Amtrak train derailed as it took a corner on a new stretch of track in Washington state at more than twice the speed limit, sending passenger cars tumbling from a bridge and killing at least three people. 

The fatal derailment is likely to intensify scrutiny of the national passenger railroad company’s safety record, which was already under the microscope following a series of fatal incidents. 

Congress will begin voting on the biggest overhaul of the U.S. tax system in more than 30 years, with little standing in the way of the party’s first major legislative triumph under President Donald Trump.  

The Trump administration has publicly blamed North Korea for unleashing the so-called WannaCry cyber attack that crippled hospitals, banks and other companies across the globe earlier this year. The White House is expected to follow up with a more formal statement blaming Pyongyang, according to a senior administration official. 

Reuters TV: Trump singles out Russia and China as U.S. rivals in a new national security strategy  

Every week is infrastructure week, the wags in Washington say. But the effort promised by Trump to revitalize everything from airports to schools to toll roads keeps being pushed back. It will still be up in the air in 2018, writes Richard Beales for Breakingviews.  

World

As Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, two Reuters journalists arrested in Myanmar, neared the end of a week in detention, there was no word on where they were being held as authorities proceeded with an investigation into whether they violated the country’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act. In many ways, the reporters symbolize their country’s emergence after decades of isolation - both from modest, provincial backgrounds, they worked hard to pursue careers that would have been impossible in the junta era into which they were born. Read a profile of both reporters. 

At least 65 media workers around the world have been killed doing their jobs this year, media freedom organization Reporters Without Borders said. Among the dead were 50 professional journalists, seven citizen journalists and eight other media workers. 

France and the United States are determined to “vigorously” raise pressure on Iran over its ballistic missile program, including possibly through sanctions, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said during a visit to Washington. 

Syrian President Bashar al Assad accused France of supporting bloodshed in his country, making it unfit to talk about a peace settlement, comments that were rebuffed by Paris which said he was in no position to give lessons after massacring his people. 

A professional diver dressed as Santa Claus entertains school children in a huge aquarium inside a Ocean Park in Manila, Philippines December 18, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Business

World stocks steadied after their biggest jump in almost six-months on U.S. tax cut hopes had added to what is already one of the strongest and longest global bull runs on record. 

After a year of relatively healthy global economic growth, economists are predicting pretty much the same for 2018 -- a neither too-hot nor too-cold Goldilocks scenario, but with little sight of the three bears.  

Belgian fresh and frozen foods company Greenyard NV said it was in advanced negotiations to acquire Dole Food Company, the world’s largest fruit and vegetable producer, confirming a Reuters report

Singapore’s central bank said it had permanently barred Yeo Jiawei, a former wealth manager of Swiss bank BSI involved in breaches related to Malaysia’s 1MDB fund, from managing financial services firms and advisory activities. 

Walt Disney’s John Skipper resigned as president of ESPN, the company’s most important network, due to a problem with addiction. An ESPN spokeswoman declined to comment on who may be considered as Skipper’s successor. 

Subaru vowed to improve oversight of its final inspections after revealing uncertified staff carried out tests of new cars for the domestic market for decades, the latest in a slew of scandals to rock Japan’s manufacturing industry. 

A South Korean cryptocurrency exchange said it is shutting down and is filing for bankruptcy after it was hacked for the second time this year, highlighting concerns about security as trade in bitcoin and other virtual currencies boom.  

Autos

China’s Didi Chuxing said it was looking to bring its ride-hailing service to Taiwan via a local franchise partner, potentially marking its first expansion across waters as it looks to take on U.S. rival Uber

Flush with state funding, carmaker Avtovaz and other Russian companies are once again increasing sales to Cuba. It is part of a broader move by Moscow to renew commercial, military and political ties just as the U.S. government is retreating from Cuba under Trump

Commentary

While the financial markets approved of Cyril Ramaphosa's election as leader of South Africa's ruling African National Congress, the country is likely to remain in political turmoil. "This is not simply a matter of economic ideology," writes William Saunderson-Meyer. "To claim the crown, there are three challenges that Ramaphosa, designated heir to the throne, has to perform – at least in terms of public perception."

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