Thursday Morning Briefing: Two oil tankers struck in suspected attacks in Gulf of Oman

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Two oil tankers were hit in suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman, shipping firms and industry sources said, sending oil prices as much as 4% higher a month after four other tankers were damaged by limpet mines in the region. The area is near the Strait of Hormuz through which a fifth of global oil consumption passes from Middle East producers. Kokuka Sangyo President Yutaka Katada told reporters that the ship had been hit twice over a three-hour period before all the crew evacuated.

A U.S. House committee voted in favor of holding two of Donald Trump’s closest advisers in contempt of Congress for defying congressional subpoenas related to an effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. Census. By a 24-15 bipartisan vote, the House Oversight Committee recommended the full House of Representatives find Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt.

Risky partner: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at least one other university have research partnerships with a Chinese artificial intelligence company that has business ties with police in China’s Xinjiang region, where a sweeping crackdown on Uighurs has drawn international condemnation.

A power that the U.S. Congress has not wielded since the 1930s may remain unused for a while longer as Democrats turn to the courts — not long-dormant rules — to press home investigations of Trump and his administration. Inherent contempt is “a tool that’s got advantages and disadvantages,” the committee’s chairman, Jerrold Nadler, said recently. While it is still an option, he added, “It’s not the most useful thing at the moment.” Last invoked more than 80 years ago, inherent contempt empowers lawmakers to order the Senate or House sergeant-at-arms, both congressional employees, to apprehend people and detain or fine them.

Japan wants to make reducing the glut of plastic waste in the oceans a priority at the Group of 20 summit it is hosting this month as governments around the world crack down on such pollution. The EU has voted to outlaw 10 single-use plastic items, including straws, forks and knives, by 2021. It has also set targets for all plastic packaging, the top source of plastic waste, to be recyclable by 2030.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to push in India for more U.S. access to local markets via @lesleywroughton
2:36 AM - Jun 13, 2019


Scuffles broke out between protesters and police in Hong Kong as hundreds of people remained on the streets to protest a planned extradition law with mainland China, a day after police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators. Asian shares slumped as the Hong Kong market was hit for the second straight session following a day of massive street protests.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said Hong Kong’s planned extradition law has triggered concern about human rights. Tsai told reporters in Taipei that Taiwan supported Hong Kong’s fight for freedom, and that the self-ruled island would not accept a “one country two systems” model proposed by China, which considers Taiwan its own. The Taiwan president also won the ruling party’s hotly contested nomination for the 2020 presidential election in a boost to her administration, which suffered a poll defeat amid rising threats from China.
Marijuana chemical residue has been found in incense burners apparently used during funerary rites at a mountainous site in western China in about 500 BC, providing what may be the oldest evidence of smoking cannabis for its mind-altering properties. The evidence was found on 10 wooden braziers containing stones with burn marks that were discovered in eight tombs at the Jirzankal Cemetery site in the Pamir Mountains in China’s Xinjiang region, scientists said.


The contest to replace British Prime Minister Theresa May is due to narrow when Conservative Party lawmakers vote to knock out at least one of 10 candidates in the first ballot, though Boris Johnson is far ahead of rivals. Conservative lawmakers cast their votes in booths in a room in the British parliament. Any candidate with 16 votes or fewer is eliminated. If all candidates have more than 16 votes, the one with the fewest votes is eliminated.
Vladimir Putin said relations between Moscow and Washington were getting worse and worse, noting in an interview published that the current U.S. administration had imposed dozens of sanctions on Russia. The Russian leader contrasted Moscow’s troubled relationship with Washington with what he described as its blossoming ties with China, a deepening strategic friendship that has alarmed some U.S. policymakers. Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he would meet Putin at the G20 in Japan, but the Kremlin said a day earlier that the idea for the meeting was “hanging in the air” and that there were no discussions on specifics yet.
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China's Vice Premier Liu calls for more measures to support economy

Chinese regulators should step up support for the economy and keep ample liquidity in the financial system, Vice Premier Liu He said, suggesting Beijing would soon unveil more policies to bolster growth amid rising U.S. trade pressure.
6 min read

Alibaba files to list in Hong Kong as soon as third quarter

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding has filed confidentially for a Hong Kong listing that will take place as soon as the third quarter of this year, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
3 Min Read

Is bitcoin growing up? Regulated futures boom as investors seek a safer ride

When bitcoin was born it was a symbol of counterculture, a rebel currency with near-anonymity and a lack of regulation. A decade later, there are growing signs it’s entering the establishment its creators sought to subvert.
6 min read

Huawei files to trademark mobile OS around the world after U.S. ban

China’s Huawei has applied to trademark its “Hongmeng” operating system in at least nine countries and Europe, data from a U.N. body shows, in a sign it may be deploying a back-up plan in key markets as U.S. sanctions threaten its business model.
3 min read

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