November 30, 2017 / 12:27 PM / 11 days ago

Thursday Morning Briefing

The Senate’s tax drama hurtles towards a dramatic conclusion, Trump rebukes Theresa May over comments on his Twitter activity and Reuters explores the method behind Kim Jong Un’s “madness”.

People react as they see North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a military parade marking the 105th anniversary of the country's founding father Kim Il Sung's birth, in Pyongyang, North Korea, April 15, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

North Korea

U.S. President Donald Trump dismisses him as "Little Rocketman," but others discern an evolving strategy behind changes the North Korean leader has made since he came to power.  

This December, Kim Jong Un will mark six years in power. In that time he has purged or executed around 340 people, according to the Institute for National Security Strategy, a think tank of South Korea's National Intelligence Service.  

The United States warned North Korea’s leadership it would be “utterly destroyed” if war were to break out after Pyongyang test fired its most advanced missile, putting the U.S. mainland within range, in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.  

Imagery released of North Korea’s latest missile test showed new rocket engines and a larger design that likely puts Kim Jong Un closer to his goal of being able to deliver a nuclear warhead to a target anywhere in the world, though without great accuracy yet, analysts said. 

Reuters TV: Behind the missiles and marching in North Korea  

United States

The Republican drive to push sweeping tax legislation through the U.S. Senate was hurtling toward a dramatic conclusion, as Republican leaders pursued behind-the-scenes deals intended to secure enough votes for passage.  

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee are close to an agreement on how to overhaul a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program and hope to complete legislation soon, the top Democrat on the panel said.  

Trump, in an unprecedented public attack on America’s closest security ally, sharply rebuked British Prime Theresa May on Twitter after Britain criticized him for retweeting British far-right anti-Islam videos.  

NBC News fired Matt Lauer, the popular host of its “Today” morning show, after a female colleague accused him of inappropriate sexual behavior, the network said, making him the latest rich and powerful man to be felled by such accusations. 

A spate of sexual misconduct accusations against U.S. politicians and other powerful men will force candidates for the November 2018 congressional elections to weigh more carefully than ever whether their past behavior could doom their chances. Following allegations against Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, Democratic U.S. Representative John Conyers and Democratic U.S. Senator Al Franken, campaign operatives from both parties warned that past behavior that might once have been excused may now be disqualifying.  

An army dog stands up as retiring soldiers salute their guard post before retirement in Suqian, Jiangsu province, China November 28, 2017. Picture taken November 28, 2017. REUTERS

An army dog stands up as retiring soldiers salute their guard post before retirement in Suqian, Jiangsu province, China November 28, 2017. Picture taken November 28, 2017. REUTERS

 

Business

A dive in high-flying U.S. tech stocks on worries their boom may have peaked left investors wondering whether the longest global equity bull run in living memory might be starting to splutter.  

OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers look poised to agree to extend output cuts until the end of 2018 to finish clearing a global glut of crude while signaling they could exit the deal earlier if the market overheats.  

Uber’s former chief executive and some board members knew of a letter alleging employees had stolen trade secrets, but the document was withheld from a high-stakes lawsuit, a company attorney testified.

Breakingviews: Rio Tinto holds valuable card in Jakarta deal

Tech

Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk said The Boring Company will compete to fund, build and operate a high-speed Loop connecting O‘Hare Airport to downtown Chicago.  

Europe is making major strides to eliminate barriers that have held back the region from developing tech firms that can compete on the scale of global giants Amazon or Tencent, a report shows. But does the region have what it takes to create the next Google?  

Nearly half of the cash that has poured into newly issued cryptocurrencies in recent years has been raised in Europe, research showed. The report by Atomico, one of Europe’s leading venture capital firms, found European-based entities have raised $1.76 billion through so-called initial coin offerings, or ICOs, since 2014, representing 46 percent of funds raised globally.  

World

As dark falls, Adeeb Joudeh makes his way through the stone alleyways of Jerusalem’s walled Old City cradling the ancient key to one of Christianity’s holiest sites. Centuries ago, the imposing iron key to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified and buried, was entrusted to his family, one of Jerusalem’s most prominent clans, says Joudeh.  

When Iran declared victory over Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, it hailed the “strong and pivotal” role played by Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement. The praise, contained in a top general’s letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader in November, confirmed Hezbollan’s pre-eminence among Shi‘ite Muslim regional groups backed by Tehran that are helping the Islamic Republic exert influence in the Middle East.  

Tens of thousands of villagers in Bali are refusing to evacuate a 10-km (six-mile) danger zone around an erupting volcano, putting their fate in the hands of the gods or simply staying put to protect homes and livestock.  

A U.N. tribunal that was stunned by the courtroom suicide of a Bosnian Croat war criminal said it was working with Dutch investigators to piece together how he smuggled a fatal dose of poison into the high-security building.  

Commentary

Vladimir Putin is not a geopolitical genius, writes Josh Cohen. The Russian president may have emerged as a Middle East power broker, but his gains elsewhere are tenuous. "Putin’s apparent successes may turn out to be failures," says Cohen. "The view of the Russian leader as a master tactician overlooks how his achievements risk blowing up in his face."

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