November 22, 2017 / 12:08 PM / in 23 days

Wednesday Morning Briefing

Uber revealed it paid hackers to hide a huge data breach last year, a U.S. Navy plane crashed in the Philippine sea and Zimbabwe’s former vice president is due to be sworn in as president on Friday.

Uber

Uber paid hackers $100,000 to keep secret a massive breach last year that exposed the personal information of about 57 million accounts of the ride-service provider, the company said.

Discovery of the U.S. company’s cover-up of the incident resulted in the firing of two employees responsible for its response to the hack, said Dara Khosrowshahi, who replaced co-founder Travis Kalanick as CEO in August.

The secret pay-off raises “huge concerns” about its data policies and ethics, Britain’s data protection regulator said. 

U.S.

The tax overhaul pushed by President Donald Trump and fellow Republicans is prompting a slew of attack ads by Democrats and progressive groups that say the legislation would lavish benefits on corporations and the rich, while harming the middle class.  

The head of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission unveiled plans to repeal landmark 2015 rules that prohibited internet service providers from impeding consumer access to web content in a move that promises to recast the digital landscape.  

A Navy transport plane carrying 11 people crashed in the Philippine Sea south of Japan as it flew to the aircraft carrier the Ronald Reagan, the U.S. Seventh Fleet said.  

Trump defended embattled Senate candidate Roy Moore, saying the Alabama Republican had denied allegations of sexual misconduct and emphasizing that he did not want Moore’s Democratic opponent to win.  

Three-times Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas said she was sexually abused by former USA Gymnastics team physician Larry Nassar, the latest in a list of female athletes to accuse the doctor of misconduct. 

Breakingviews: Trump administration scrambles media signals. 

Business

Amazon has told its Australian sellers to be ready to take orders on Nov. 23, according to a retailer, the first time the global retail juggernaut has given a start date for doing business in the world No. 12 economy.  

Research by Apple computer scientists on how self-driving cars can better spot cyclists and pedestrians while using fewer sensors has been posted online, in what appears to be the company’s first publicly disclosed paper on autonomous vehicles.  

The International Trade Commission recommended tariffs to keep Samsung and LG from flooding the U.S. market with inexpensive washers, a step that would protect American appliance giant Whirlpool. 

Skype, Microsoft’s internet phone call and messaging service, has disappeared from app stores in China including that of Apple, indicating the latest setback for a foreign tech service in the country.  

Meg Whitman announced that she will step down as chief executive of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, ending a 6-year tenure that included overseeing one of the biggest corporate breakups in history.  

Workers wearing panda masks use a wireless device to detect the location of Yingxue, a panda which has received survival training, at a protection base before reintroducing it to the wild, in Wolong, Sichuan province, China November 20, 2017. Picture taken November 20, 2017. REUTERS

Workers wearing panda masks use a wireless device to detect the location of Yingxue, a panda which has received survival training, at a protection base before reintroducing it to the wild, in Wolong, Sichuan province, China November 20, 2017. Picture taken November 20, 2017. REUTERS

 

China 

China’s largest pig farming companies and new entrants are racing to build vast, modern hog farms in the north-eastern cornbelt, expanding the world’s biggest pork market and upending traditional trade flows in meat and grain.  

China took steps to rein in the rapidly growing and lightly regulated market for online micro-lenders in the government’s latest crackdown on internet finance, sending shares of U.S.-listed Chinese financial firms into a tailspin.  

Reuters TV: China has few tears for old friend Mugabe.  

Special report

Instead of intercontinental ballistic missiles, experts tell Reuters that the U.S. should rely on nuclear armed submarines and bombers to retaliate against nuclear attacks. Both bombers and submarines offer advantages over ICBMs, like allowing more time for a launch decision. Read the second part of a special report on nuclear weapons.

World

Zimbabwe’s former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa will be sworn in as president on Friday following the resignation of Robert Mugabe after nearly four decades in power, state broadcaster ZBC reported.  

Reuters TV: A North Korea defector's getaway.  

Iran is pushing to retain customers for its oil in Asia, hoping that price reductions will boost the appeal of its crude compared with other Middle Eastern supply even as the potential threat of further U.S. sanctions on the country looms. 

Britain’s Finance Minister Philip Hammond, fighting for his political future as well as the fortunes of Britain’s economy ahead of Brexit, is due to deliver his budget plan to parliament. Hammond will say how much he can afford to help unhappy voters as he faces a potentially sharp deterioration in the economy’s growth prospects.

Commentary

Zimbabwe's military showed "sensitivity to semantics" in refusing to call its eviction of President Robert Mugabe a coup, writes William Saunderson-Meyer. The reason: the 55-nation African Union's increasingly hard line against illegal changes of government. "The coup that was not a coup took a week," says Saunderson-Meyer. "It will take longer for Zimbabweans to find out whether their jubilation at the unexpected transformation of their onetime oppressors to uniformed liberators will be vindicated or dashed."  

Forcing Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign and ratcheting up tensions with Iran over Yemen has backfired on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his advisers, writes Mohamad Bazzi. “The lack of support from fellow Arab leaders for tougher action against Iran and Hezbollah shows that few Saudi allies are willing to confront Iran directly,” says Bazzi. “Already overstretched by Yemen and embroiled in a diplomatic crisis with Qatar, the kingdom cannot effectively challenge Hezbollah, Iran’s main ally in Lebanon, without assembling a broader Arab and international coalition.” 

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