From Hong Kong’s Carrie Lam’s biggest regret to Russia’s progress in Ukraine – Here’s your June 15 news briefing

From Hong Kong’s Carrie Lam’s biggest regret to Russia’s progress in Ukraine – Here’s your June 15 news briefing
FILE PHOTO: Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a news conference after the Legislative Council election in Hong Kong, China, December 20, 2021. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

To start off, we’re looking into:

Carrie Lam shares her biggest regret

In an interview with Bloomberg TV on Tuesday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that her biggest regret from her time as the city’s leader was its lag in a strong vaccination effort, leading to a spike in deaths and cases, which ultimately led to the city’s strictest lockdown during the fifth wave of the virus.

The fifth wave, caused by omicron, saw more than 9,000 deaths in the city, mostly from elderly populations, giving Hong Kong the highest COVID death rate per capita for a period.

When asked if she wanted to offer an apology to the people of Hong Kong for the stringent lockdown measures, she said that her only apology was to her husband and children for the sacrifices they’d made for her to be in the role.

US Senator proposes tax hike on windfall oil profits

Ron Wyden
Source: Mandel Ngan/Pool via REUTERS

US Senator Ron Wyden, a Biden ally from Oregon, is proposing a new piece of legislation that would set a 21% surtax on oil companies for what would be considered price gouging or “excessive profits,” according to two people familiar with the proposal. The idea is that this would be on top of the 21% corporate tax these companies already face.

In theory, the legislation would only take effect for companies that are raking in a profit margin of more than 10%, supposedly lowering the incentive for raising oil and gas prices to increase profit. He said that companies that lowered their prices or “provide relief to consumers” would not have to face the additional taxes.

But the legislation faces strong opposition from Republicans in the Senate, and it would require all 50 Democratic senators to agree on it to actually get it passed.

Russia’s progress in the east of Ukraine

Russia Ukraine
Local residents walk in front of an apartment building destroyed in a missile strike, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Bakhmut, Ukraine June 13, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Initially, when Putin invaded Ukraine, Russian militants attacked Ukraine from the north, east and south. But, after realizing it had underestimated Ukraine’s military capabilities, the Russian military shifted its focus and resources to the east of Ukraine. While this translated into some hope that Ukrainians were gaining the upper hand in the war, it was short-lived as it became clear that Russia seems to be doing everything in its power to seize the entirety of the Donbas region – the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces.

For weeks, Russia has been attacking Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, and if Russia wins, it would mean all of Luhansk would be under Russian control. On Monday, the final bridge that led to Severodonetsk was destroyed. And while Lysychansk is still under Ukrainian control, it’s under attack, and civilian evacuation is getting increasingly difficult. On Tuesday, Russian General Mikhail Mizintsev told fighters in the city to “stop their senseless resistance and lay down their arms,” saying they would open a “humanitarian corridor” for civilians on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Kyiv officials have laid out a huge shopping list of all the weapons they need, posting it on Twitter as well.

To end, we’ll look into:

Help the economy by drinking less tea

Pakistan tea
Ahsan Iqbal. PHOTO: PID

You probably think you’ve heard all the solutions for what you can do to help the economy. Carpool to cut down on gas, eat a little less meat and maybe turn the lights off during the day to save energy.

But in Pakistan, citizens are being asked to cut down on a different kind of energy supply – tea. Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal suggested on Tuesday that citizens drink one to two fewer cups of tea each day in an effort to save money because the country imports tea on a loan.

This is a big deal, though, since Pakistan is the world’s largest tea importer, having bought more than US$600 million just last year.

The idea to reduce tea consumption wasn’t the only suggestion that Iqbal made – he also said that markets could close by 8:30 in the evening to save energy.

For some context here, Pakistan is in a pretty dicey economic situation. The country’s parliament just recently ousted former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was replaced by Shehbaz Sharif. And when he got the job, he accused the outgoing Khan administration of mismanaging the economy and said getting it back on track would be a major challenge.

Sharif’s government is now working on convincing the IMF to restart some bailout programs that would pump nearly US$6 billion into the Pakistani economy.

In other news …

📉Stocks, oil and Bitcoin: While investors brace themselves for what could be the highest US rate hike in 28 years, global stocks fell for the second day in a row after entering bear territory yesterday. Oil prices also fell, with Brent crude futures falling 1.17% to US$120.84 a barrel, with the increased rates and the impact of the US tax on oil. Bitcoin settled at US$21,351.

🗃Coinbase’s job cut: Adding to the crypto winter, according to an email from Coinbase sent out Tuesday, the company will be cutting 18% of full-time jobs.

📞That first meeting: Elon Musk will be addressing Twitter employees for the first time on Thursday morning via a video call since launching his US$44 billion takeover bid.

🇭🇰Hong Kong COVID: From Thursday till the end of the month, partygoers to Hong Kong bars and clubs will be required to show a negative COVID test upon entry. The city saw over 750 infections yesterday.

🦠Monkeypox: The WHO is working with experts to try and come up with a new name for monkeypox. This comes after over 30 scientists wrote to the agency last week urging them to come up with a name that was “non-discriminatory and non-stigmatising.” The WHO will also hold an emergency meeting next week to see whether monkeypox needs to be classified as a global public health emergency.

🎬Buzz Lightyear: Buzz Lightyear’s new film is hitting the cinemas later this week, and while kids and adults alike are getting excited around the world, those in the UAE won’t be able to watch the movie after The UAE’s Media Regulatory Office tweeted that it violated “the country’s media content standards.” Executive Director Rashid Khalfan Al Nuaimi told Reuters it was based on the inclusion of “homosexual” characters who share a brief kiss.

💔BTS break: Korean phenomenon BTS said during a televised dinner celebrating their anniversary that they are going to be taking a break to do their own thing for a while and pursue solo projects. The group has been apparently going through a rough patch and trying to find their identity.

Written and put together by Jake Shropshire, Christine Dulion and Krystal Lai