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FirstFT: Musk says he would reverse Trump’s ‘foolish’ and ‘morally wrong’ Twitter ban

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Elon Musk has said he would reverse Donald Trump’s ban from Twitter, accusing the social media company of leftwing bias that had aggravated political divisions in the US.

“I think it was a morally bad decision, and foolish in the extreme,” Musk said of the lifetime ban of Trump, which was imposed soon after a mob invaded the US Capitol building on January 6 last year.

“I would reverse the permaban [on Trump],” added Musk. “Obviously I don’t own Twitter yet, so this is not a thing that will definitely happen.”

The comments, made during the FT’s Future of the Car conference and Musk’s first interview since reaching a deal to buy Twitter for roughly $44bn two weeks ago, marked a sharp escalation in his attacks on the social media company’s attempts to weed out hate speech and misinformation.

“Banning Trump from Twitter didn’t end Trump’s voice,” Musk said. “It will amplify it among the right. This is why it’s morally wrong and flat-out stupid.”

Thanks for reading FirstFT Europe/Africa. Here’s the rest of the day’s news — George

The latest on the war in Ukraine

  • Rebuilding Ukraine: Western nations are beginning to weigh the costs and planning needed for postwar reconstruction, which will rival anything since the second world war.

  • Russia: The US believes Vladimir Putin is “preparing for prolonged conflict” in Ukraine and his focus on the south-eastern Donbas region is an attempt “to regain the initiative”.

  • Opinion: The ninth expansion of Nato will go down as Vladimir Putin’s enlargement, says former Finnish prime minister Alexander Stubb — it would not have happened without Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

The devastation in Borodyanka
There is no hiding the devastation in Borodyanka, the most badly damaged of the towns north-west of Kyiv, which bore the brunt of Moscow’s failed attempt to take the capital © Oleksii Karpovych/FT

1. Johnson signals readiness to scrap Northern Ireland deal Boris Johnson’s government is on a collision course with the EU after signalling its intention to tear up post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland. The UK prime minister told his Irish counterpart Micheál Martin yesterday that the agreement was “not sustainable in its current form”.

2. EU to loosen green standards The EU is preparing to ease environmental regulations as it seeks to replace Russian fossil fuels with renewable energy, according to draft proposals seen by the Financial Times. Companies would be allowed to build wind and solar projects without an environmental impact assessment in designated areas.

3. Activist calls for shake-up at France’s Saint-Gobain Activist investor Bluebell Capital is calling for Saint-Gobain, one of France’s oldest industrial companies, to reshape the business and replace its chair after an “underwhelming performance”. Last year, Bluebell’s campaign led to a management overhaul at Danone.

4. CVC pushes back IPO plans CVC Capital Partners, Europe’s biggest private equity group, has delayed plans for a stock market listing to autumn or early 2023, from June, as market turbulence, high inflation, interest rate rises and slowing growth stand in the way of the multibillion-euro flotation.

5. Sunak demands more UK oil and gas investments Rishi Sunak has called for North Sea oil and gas companies to increase energy investments in the UK to avoid a windfall tax. The chancellor has warned that a levy would deter investment, but he has come under pressure from MPs to help households struggling with energy bills.

The day ahead

Economic data Germany issues its April consumer price index and producer price index. Last month, German inflation rose to its highest rate in 40 years. The US also issues April CPI data, which is expected to have slowed slightly from 8.5 per cent in March, its fastest pace since 1981.

Earnings Compass, ITV, Panasonic, Suzuki Motor, Takeda, Thyssenkrupp, Toyota and Tui are among companies reporting results today. Walt Disney earnings will indicate whether the company’s streaming service extended strong first-quarter growth or suffered a Netflix-style meltdown.

Events A three-day conference, Europe as a Leader in Disruptive Innovation, begins in Paris today and combines Paris-Saclay Spring and the Week of Innovative Regions in Europe. The general assembly of the Anti-Money Laundering Network meets in Lyon.

What else we’re reading

French bibliophiles voice alarm over Vivendi takeover In France, literature is not supposed to be a vulgar business like any other, but rather an art form to be protected. The pending acquisition of France’s biggest publisher Hachette by billionaire corporate raider Vincent Bolloré has set the local literary world on edge.

Egyptian media exiles pressured by Erdoğan’s reset Grappling with a weak economy, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has sought to rebuild relations across the Arab world in an effort to boost trade and investment. That has come with consequences for Egyptian opposition television channels that have made Turkey their home.

The race to mine lithium in America’s backyard China dominates the supply chain for manufacturing lithium batteries, including mineral processing. But as the US attempts to surge ahead in the global race to build green batteries, Washington is encouraging mining projects — even amid criticism from environmentalists.

Montage of lithium-bearing rock and a Tesla car
Piedmont Lithium found no difficulty pledging future sales to Tesla, America’s poster child electric car company © FT montage; NASA/GSFC/Meti/ERSDAC/Jaros/Bloomberg/Géry Parent/Wikicommons

Drought threatens hopes French wheat could ease shortfalls France’s rich wheat fields seemed an obvious partial solution to the grain shortages caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the traditional “bread basket” of Europe. But the EU’s biggest wheat exporter is facing challenges of its own: low rainfall this year has brought the threat of drought.

Clues but few answers in childhood hepatitis mystery Scientists are mystified by a new form of hepatitis, which is thought to be afflicting more than 300 children across the world and might be causing a wider, undetected wave of milder liver damage. Lockdowns, adenoviruses, Covid-19 and exposure to dogs have all been blamed.

Things to do in Tokyo

Japan is home to eight winners of the Pritzker Prize, widely considered architecture’s highest honour. No country has more. Explore 12 highlights in Tokyo’s constellation of starchitecture with FT Globetrotter.

People walk past Tadao Ando’s ‘subterranean spaceship’, an egg-shaped structure with an oval atrium
Tadao Ando’s ‘subterranean spaceship’ features an egg-shaped structure with an oval atrium © James Hand-Cukierman

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