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Friday Morning Briefing
November 24, 2017 / 11:40 AM / 17 days ago

Friday Morning Briefing

Black Friday begins with the usual shopping frenzy, Oscar Pistorius’ murder sentence is more than doubled and Ireland’s government fights for survival.

A marching band arrives to take part during the 91st Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., November 23, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Black Friday

Shoppers had splurged more than $1.52 billion online by Thanksgiving evening, and more bargain hunters turned up at stores this year after two weak holiday seasons as retailers opened their doors early on the eve of Black Friday. 

Retailers across Europe chased shoppers in a test of consumer confidence, particularly in Britain where the spending spree imported from the U.S. has become most popular. After suffering their biggest decline in sales volumes for four-and-a-half years in October, British retailers are pinning their hopes on discounts to get shoppers, who are being squeezed by inflation and low wage rises, spending again.  

Workers at Amazon’s main distribution hub in Italy are planning their first ever strike, trade unions said, while they are also striking at six warehouses in Germany, threatening to disrupt one of the year’s busiest shopping days. 

Slideshow: Black Friday frenzy  

United States

President Donald Trump gave a bullish Thanksgiving address to troops overseas, hailing progress in Afghanistan and against ISIS, and telling them they were fighting for “something real,” including a stock market at record highs and his promised “big, beautiful fat tax cuts.”  

Lawyers for Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, have told Trump’s legal team they can no longer discuss a probe into Russian meddling in the U.S. election, indicating Flynn may be cooperating with the investigation, the New York Times reported.  

A Houston-area woman has been charged with mailing booby-trapped packages designed to explode to former U.S. President Barack Obama, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and a federal office in Maryland.  

World

South Africa’s Supreme Court increased Oscar Pistorius’ murder sentence to 13 years and five months after the state argued his original sentence of six years for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was “shockingly lenient”.  

Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in as president of Zimbabwe in front of thousands of cheering supporters at Harare’s national stadium, bringing the final curtain down on the 37-year rule of Robert Mugabe. 

Just months ago, with crowds of protesters baying on the streets for the resignation of the “dictator” and “murderer,” Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro looked like a goner. Yet the unpopular successor to Hugo Chavez has not only survived, he is ending the year on a political high and is even a front-runner for the 2018 presidential election. 

North Korea has reportedly replaced guards and fortified a section of its border with South Korea where a North Korean soldier defected last week, while South Korean and U.S. soldiers have been decorated for their role in the defector’s rescue. 

An indigenous man from the Pataxo tribe takes part in a protest against an opinion of the General Advocacy of the Union about the demarcation of indigenous lands, at the Esplanade of Ministries in Brasilia, Brazil, November 23, 2017. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

An indigenous man from the Pataxo tribe takes part in a protest against an opinion of the General Advocacy of the Union about the demarcation of indigenous lands, at the Esplanade of Ministries in Brasilia, Brazil, November 23, 2017. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

Top Lebanese Druze politician Walid Jumblatt criticized the way Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri had been treated by “some Saudi circles”, the first time he has appeared to direct blame at Riyadh over Hariri’s resignation this month. 

Reuters TV: All eyes on Theresa May as Brussels seeks Brexit signs. 

Ireland’s government was fighting for its survival after the party propping it up announced plans to break their agreement because of the handling of a policing scandal. 

Chinese police are investigating claims of sexual molestation and needlemarks on children at a Beijing kindergarten, the latest case in a booming childcare industry to spark outrage among parents. 

A newly freed Pakistani Islamist accused of masterminding a bloody 2008 assault in the Indian city of Mumbai called ousted former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif a “traitor” for seeking peace with neighbour and arch-foe India. 

We speak our mind”, says the website of a group of young Cambodians who have met at weekends for the past six years to discuss politics over mugs of coffee. But discussions by the Politikoffee group were postponed indefinitely by the organisers after the main opposition party was dissolved last week at the request of authoritarian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government. 

Business

Uber said that it discussed a massive data breach with potential investor SoftBank ahead of going public with details of the incident on Tuesday. The ride-hailing service is trying to complete a deal in which the Japanese company would invest as much as $10 billion (£7.52 billion) for at least 14 percent of Uber, mostly by buying out existing shareholders. 

Breakingviews: China's bond squeeze could spread offshore

Giant robots and futuristic cyberpunk castles rise out of lush mountain slopes on the outskirts of Guiyang, the capital of one of China’s poorest provinces. Welcome to China’s first virtual reality theme park, which aims to ride a boom in demand for virtual entertainment that is set to propel tenfold growth in the country’s virtual reality market, to hit almost $8.5 billion by 2020. 

Chinese airlines are circling disaffected pilots at Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways, offering sky-high salaries to fill a shortage of experienced captains in a rapidly expanding aviation industry. 

“Fake data” is as much of a threat to economic and financial stability as “fake news” is to politics, a leading European central banker said. European Central Bank board member Benoit Coeure said there was a growing prevalence of poor quality data, which risks fuelling economic manias and panic. 

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