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Some key takeaways from the Shangri-La Dialogue
In case you missed it, the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, which is Asia’s biggest defense conference, just wrapped up. Here are some key takeaways.
US-China tensions took center stage at the conference, with many nations saying dialogue between the two superpowers was of the utmost importance. During the two days, defense chiefs of the two countries both pushed their ideologies on how global order and stability should look. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin promised to push back and defend Asian nations against what he described as “bullying” from China, while Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe issued one of China’s strongest warnings about Taiwan yet, saying that “If anyone dares to secede Taiwan from China, we will not hesitate to fight.”
Australia and China had the highest level of in-person dialogue in Singapore between Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles and Wei. This is notable because China hasn’t allowed for calls or meetings with Australian ministers and direct counterparts since early 2020, with relations souring over issues like COVID and trade. Marles said that the conversation was “full and frank,” where there was talk about the Australian aircraft and Chinese jet incident last month as well as issues in the Pacific region.
Read the full article here.
US House of Representatives look into the January 6 attack on the Capitol
Most of us have probably seen those harrowing videos of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol building after the 2020 election. But since then, a select committee of the House of Representatives has been studying what exactly happened and how to stop incidents like that moving forward.
Now, in a series of primetime TV hearings, the committee is laying out the evidence collected during those hearings, including testimony from members of the Trump family and administration, leaders and members of far-right organizations that led the assault on January 6, the police officers who were there that day and experts and researchers from all of the related topics they’re dealing with.
The first day of the hearings mostly set up what to expect to see and hear in the coming weeks, but it did include testimony from Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump’s daughter, who said that she “accepted” it when then-Attorney General William Barr said that the 2020 election had been fairly lost, despite her having claimed publicly it was a fraudulent election previously. It also included testimony from a filmmaker documenting the Proud Boys, a far-right group that was part of the assault.
There are expected to be up to seven more hearings before the end of June
Friday’s US inflation data
The highly anticipated US consumer prices and sentiment report came out on Friday, showing that inflation increased a lot more than expected last month. In fact, the figure was the highest since 1981 at 8.6%. Because the Fed has been hiking rates since March, many were hoping that it would reign in inflation, but with the Ukraine-Russia war as well as supply chain headaches, the Fed’s road to calming inflation has been filled with bumps.
The Fed is widely expected to increase the funds rate by a half-point on Wednesday next week, with many worried it could be more aggressive or faster, sparking an economic slowdown. With that, there’s an extra bright spotlight on the Fed’s press briefing on Wednesday for many looking for reassurance that the central bank can pull it off without starting a recession.
To end, we’ll look into:
McDonald’s exited Russia after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Now under new branding and ownership, the revamped fast-food chain revealed its logo ahead of its reopening on Sunday as well as a new name, “Vkusno i Tochka,” which means “Tasty and that’s it.”
The photo above was the first Mcdonald’s in Moscow in 1990.
McDonald’s exited the country in March and sold all 847 of its stores to a Siberian businessman called Alexander Govor. But part of the deal is that McDonald’s is allowed to buy back the business in 15 years while still retaining the trademarks in the country.
But the launch of the Golden Arches in Russia back then represented much more than fried potatoes and quick burgers. It represented the then-Soviet Union opening its country and economy up to the rest of the world as the Cold War ended.
Embraced by Russians who affectionately termed the American fast-food chain “MakDak,” the chain’s last day saw residents flock to the stores, with one man protesting the closure by handcuffing himself to a MakDak store entrance, saying, “Closing down is an act of hostility against me and my fellow citizens!” before being arrested.
Now with the new rebranding, many are turning their heads sideways to squint at the new logo that comes with this new chapter, with some social media users commenting that it still looks like an “M.”
In other news …
📉Stocks, oil and Bitcoin: After Friday showed higher than expected US inflation in May, global equities slumped, with more pain anticipated ahead. Oil prices fell, with predictions that the increased prices will lead to a decrease in consumer demand, and that demand in China will be lower now that the country has reimposed some COVID measures. Bitcoin dipped further past 3.35% to US$27,444.50.
🌱Weed in Thailand: Thailand removed marijuana from its banned narcotics list, becoming the first in Southeast Asia to do so. Although the trade is now legal, recreational use is still banned.
✈️US COVID requirements are easing: Previously, the US required travelers to show a negative COVID test before flying into the country. As of midnight Sunday, this has been officially removed.
👨💻To IPO or to not: We reported that there is speculation that Ant’s IPO was bring revived. But since then, Chinese regulators have come out to deny this.
⚽️Ronaldo’s rape lawsuit update: A Nevada woman named Kathryn Mayorga, who was paid US$375,000 in hush money from Cristiano Ronaldo’s attorneys after saying he raped her in 2009, has had her lawsuit, which sought tens of million dollars in damages, thrown out by a US judge because her lawyer used leaked and stolen documents in the suit.
🇭🇰Hong Kong COVID: Hong Kong’s COVID cases surpassed 850, the highest in two months. Many were tied to venues like Shuffle and Iron Faries.
💼ByteDance VR investments: An anonymous source has told Protocol that ByteDance (the parent company of TikTok) is gearing up to spend a heap of money on VR-related content. ByteDance acquired Pico, a Chinese VR headset maker, last year, and there are about 40 job listings posted.
👨⚖️A step toward stricter gun laws: A cross-party group of US senators have agreed on a proposal on potential gun safety laws. It includes 10 Republicans, meaning they have the numbers to vote it into law.
📲Telegram premium: Telegram will be rolling out a paid subscription later this month. The app’s existing features will also remain free and unchanged for non-paying users.
🇨🇳China’s COVID flare-ups: According to a local media report, restaurants in Shanghai were told to suspend dine-in services after several flare-ups were detected in the city as well as in Beijing.
🍿"Squid Game" is back: “Squid Game" is officially coming back to Netflix for season two, with the director saying that "It took 12 years to bring the first season of ‘Squid Game’ to life last year. But it took 12 days for ‘Squid Game’ to become the most popular Netflix series ever."