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Monday Morning Briefing
November 6, 2017 / 11:46 AM / 15 days ago

Monday Morning Briefing

A gunman kills 26 worshipers in a Texas church, the so-called Paradise Papers expose new high-profile cases of tax avoidance and oil jumps as Saudi Arabia’s crown prince cracks down on corruption.

Brayleigh and her brother Branson attend a candle light vigil after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S., November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Flores

Texas

A man with an assault rifle killed at least 26 people and wounded 20 in a rural church during Sunday services, adding the name of Sutherland Springs to the litany of American communities shattered by mass shootings.  

The heavily Christian community set amid farmlands and rolling hills about 40 miles (65 km) east of San Antonio is too small to have its own police force, and much of its social activity is centered on its two churches.  

The massacre, which media reports say was carried out by a man thrown out of the Air Force for assaulting his wife and child, is likely to renew questions about why someone with a history of violence could amass an arsenal of lethal weaponry.  

In pictures: The scene outside of the Texas church. 

Saudi Arabia

Not two weeks ago, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince declared before thousands of his subjects and invited guests that his country needed to move to a more just, open and moderate Islamic society. On Sunday, Mohammed bin Salman turned the same venue – the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh – into a posh detention center for princes, ministers and other elites rounded up in a sudden anti-corruption drive.  

Saudi Arabia’s future king arrested royals, ministers and investors including billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal who is one of the kingdom’s most prominent businessmen. 

Bribery, embezzlement, money laundering and abuse of power are among the accusations leveled against dozens of those detained in an anti-corruption probe, a Saudi official told Reuters

Oil jumped to its highest in over two years amid the crackdown, while world shares eased a notch and major currencies traded in tight ranges.  

Business

Deutsche Telekom shares dropped after the collapse of the merger of its T-Mobile US unit with Sprint Corp, which would have created a strong No.3 player on the U.S. market.  

Kobe Steel executives, including President Hiroya Kawasaki, will decide whether to resign to take responsibility for a cheating scandal after a report from independent investigators due by year-end, two sources told Reuters. 

Qatar Airways has broadened its global reach by purchasing a 9.61 percent stake in Cathay Pacific, adding another strategic investor to the Hong Kong carrier’s complicated share register at a time when it is looking to cut costs. 

The leap in assets at Credit Suisse’s private bank to a record high this year has been aided by a key plank of the bank’s new strategy: lending money to the world’s ultra-wealthy.  

Communications chipmaker Broadcom said it offered to buy smartphone chip supplier Qualcomm Inc for $70 per share or $103 billion in cash and stock, in what would be the biggest technology acquisition ever.

 

Marin Honda of Japan competes at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Audi Cup of China in Beijing, November 4, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Marin Honda of Japan competes at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Audi Cup of China in Beijing, November 4, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

 

U.S.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has kept investments in a shipping firm with significant business ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, U.S. media reported, citing leaked documents from an offshore law firm. The files are part of the so-called Paradise Papers, a trove of leaked offshore investment documents that relate to the affairs of wealthy individuals and institutions from Ross to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and trading firm Glencore.  

Following the leak, European Union finance ministers will discuss setting up a blacklist of worldwide tax havens. At the moment, each EU country has its own list of jurisdictions that are seen as less cooperative on tax matters. Criteria to define a tax haven vary greatly among EU states and some of them include no jurisdictions in their national blacklists. 

Special Counsel Robert Mueller pushed back against Paul Manafort’s efforts to avoid house arrest, arguing that President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager needed to further detail the finances behind his proposed $12 million bail agreement.  

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said that Republican lawmakers are weighing a “host of ideas” as the House tax-writing committee begins revising a tax bill this week, though he expects the broad outlines to remain the same.  

World

Trump said that America stood with close ally Japan against the North Korean “menace” and that Washington would work with Tokyo to sort out problems on trade between the world’s biggest and third-largest economies. Trump, speaking after a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, repeated his mantra the “era of strategic patience” with North Korea was over, and said the two countries were working to counter the “dangerous aggressions”.

Afghan and U.S. military authorities are investigating reports that as many as 13 civilians were killed in an operation in the northern region of Kunduz, officials said. but details remain sketchy three days after the incident.  

Philippine authorities were on the lookout for a Malaysian who could be the new leader of pro-Islamic State groups in Southeast Asia, security chiefs said, following the deaths of several high-profile regional extremists.  

Having stoked Hindu nationalist passions in his bid for the highest office, it’s unclear to what extent Prime Minister Narendra Modi can now control the nation’s right-wing Hindu factions that propelled him to power. On the ground, groups of Hindu vigilantes have been busy seizing cows from Muslims – a valuable asset in rural India – and redistributing them to other Hindus. Read the special report.

North Korea

South Korea imposed unilateral sanctions on 18 North Koreans, barring any financial transactions between those sanctioned and any South Koreans, as part of international efforts to dry up Pyongyang’s illegal cash flows.  

An North Korean embassy official and a manager of Air Koryo, the national airline, met suspects wanted for the killing of Kim Jong Nam shortly after the murder, according to video recordings shown at the trial in Kuala Lumpur.  

As Olympic officials try to persuade North Korea to join what they hope will be a peaceful winter Games in the South in February, leader Kim Jong Un has a weakness that may help them: He loves sport.  

Commentary

The struggles for and against Catalan independence are emblematic of the European Union’s present strength and its future weakness, writes John Lloyd. "In country after European country, the trend away from the center continues and presently grows." Outside of Catalonia, independence movements exist in the UK (Scotland), France (Brittany and Corsica), Bavaria (Germany), Belgium (Flanders) and Italy (Lombardy and Veneto). "The EU cannot look on these movements with anything but disfavor and alarm," says Lloyd. 

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