December 27, 2017 / 1:38 PM / a year ago

Wednesday Morning Briefing

U.S. announces sanctions on prominent North Korea officials, Apple faces lawsuits after saying it slowed down aging iPhones and a Special Report investigates “The Body Trade”.

An aerial view shows people dressed as Father Frost, the Russian equivalent of Santa Claus, and Snow Maiden with members of the Cryophile winter swimming club forming with their bodies a 2018 sign on the bank of the Yenisei River to mark the upcoming New Year and Christmas season in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia December 24, 2017. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin

North Korea

The United States announced sanctions on two of North Korea’s most prominent officials behind its ballistic missile program, while Russia reiterated an offer to mediate to ease tension between Washington and Pyongyang.

At least four defectors from North Korea have shown signs of radiation exposure, the South Korean government said, although researchers could not confirm if they were related to Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.


Former U.S. president Barack Obama said the way people communicate via social media risked splintering society and leaders had to ensure the Internet did not cocoon users within their own biases.

The chief of the Russian General Staff has accused the United States of training former Islamic State fighters in Syria to try to destabilize the country.

Two Reuters journalists who have been detained in Myanmar for the past two weeks were remanded in custody for a further two weeks as a probe continues into allegations they breached the nation’s Official Secrets Act.

China’s parliament said part of a high-speed railway station being built in Hong Kong would be regarded as mainland territory governed by mainland laws, an unprecedented move that critics say further erodes the city’s autonomy.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called Syrian President Bashar al Assad a terrorist and said it was impossible for Syrian peace efforts to continue with him.

Russia’s central election commission accepted documents from Vladimir Putin needed to register him as a candidate in next March’s presidential ballot.

A Vietnamese court sentenced 15 people to multiple years in jail for plotting to bomb the country’s biggest airport in the southern city of Ho Chi Minh, media reported. 

An Australian mother of three escaped the death penalty after a Malaysian court found her not guilty of drug trafficking.


European tech stocks tumbled as the region emerged from a two-day trading holiday and investors reacted to reports that demand for Apple’s iPhone X may be weaker than expected.

Apple defrauded iPhone users by slowing devices without warning to compensate for poor battery performance, according to eight lawsuits filed in various federal courts in the week since the company opened up about the year-old software change.

Reuters TV: Apple shares drop on report of weak iPhone demand.

Special Report

The Body Trade: A business where human bodies were butchered, packaged and sold.


The U.S. dollar fell against a basket of currencies and slid against the euro in thin holiday trading, while a rally in commodity prices helped push the Canadian and Australian currencies to their highest levels in recent weeks.

World stocks edged higher as a strong rally in commodities buoyed expectations for a strong year for the global economy in 2018 and helped mitigate concerns over the technology sector triggered by reports of soft iPhone X demand.

Airbus is drawing up contingency plans to phase out production of the world’s largest jetliner, the A380 superjumbo, if it fails to win a key order from Dubai’s Emirates, three people familiar with the matter said.

Oil prices fell after hitting a near two-and-a-half year high in the previous session as analysts said the rally was gradually running out of steam despite supply outages in Libya and the North Sea.

Investors who bet on private prison operators as big winners from Donald Trump’s tough line on crime and illegal immigration are looking back at a bruising year of high hopes and disappointment.

Barclays expects to take a writedown of about $1.3 billion on its annual post-tax profit as a result of the U.S. tax overhaul, the bank said in a statement.

Japanese automaker Nissan will recall 106,340 Nissan cars in Russia, Russia’s technical safety watchdog Rosstandart said.


What to watch in 2018: From Europe to Yemen, North Korea to Catalonia, Reuters global affairs columnist Peter Apps considers the key issues expected to shape global events in 2018. "For all the sound and fury following Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, 2018 will likely see America ever less at the heart of events in the region," says Apps of the Middle East. On North Korea: "As Pyongyang’s ability to strike the U.S. mainland increases, Washington will get increasingly aggressive – but likely will still remain reluctant to launch any kind of strike that could trigger a devastating conflagration."

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