From EU leaders meeting in Kyiv to more Elon Musk shenanigans – Here’s your June 17 news briefing

From EU leaders meeting in Kyiv to more Elon Musk shenanigans – Here’s your June 17 news briefing
French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attend a joint news conference, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine June 16, 2022. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

To start off, we’re looking into:

EU leaders in Kyiv

The leaders of France, Germany, Romania and Italy visited Kyiv on Thursday to show their support for Ukraine. This comes a day before the EU’s executive arm is expected to formally recommend Ukraine to have candidate status to join the EU. The EU member nations will debate the issue at a summit later this month on June 23 and 24.

At a press conference after the visit, all four nations supported Ukraine’s immediate candidate status into the bloc, but Germany’s Scholz said that the nation still needed to meet the criteria for entry. Meanwhile, Zelenskiy has said that Ukraine is “ready to work” to become a full member. Meanwhile, France’s Macron said that while Ukraine could count on its allies’ support, communication still needed to be maintained with Putin. The heads of state also said that more weapons are also being sent to Ukraine.

Speaking about the visit, Russia said that it hoped the Western leaders would help Ukraine during this talk not just by sending them more weapons but also by forcing Zelenskiy to “take a realistic look at the state of affairs.”

What was said on that Putin and Xi call?

Putin Xi
Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. Photographer: Alexei Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images

China’s President Xi Jinping’s birthday was on June 15, during which he had a call with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. According to the Kremlin, the two leaders discussed working together more economically and militarily. But Russia’s recount of the conversation also seemed to imply that Xi supported Putin’s reasoning for invading Ukraine, saying that expanding cooperation was agreed on “taking into account the situation in the global economy that has become more complicated due to the unlawful sanctions policy of the West.” The Kremlin’s readout of the call also said that Xi noted the “legitimacy of Russia’s actions in protecting its fundamental national interests in the face of security challenges created by external forces.”

But when Chinese state media recounted its version of the conversation, there was no mention of expanded cooperation. It said that Xi “actively promoted world peace and the stability of the global economic order” and encouraged “a proper settlement to the Ukraine crisis in a responsible manner.” CCTV’s report recounted that Xi said, “China is willing to continue mutual support with Russia on issues related to sovereignty, security and issues of major concern.”

Regardless, though, the US wasn’t impressed, saying that although China says it’s neutral, it still seemed to be investing in its relationship with Russia.

Israel partners with Hong Kong to test CBDC

Israel digital currency
FILE PHOTO: An Israeli flag flutters outside the Bank of Israel building in Jerusalem August 7, 2013. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo

Israel is looking into getting its own central bank digital currency (CBDC), and it’s turning to Hong Kong as a partner to run a trial that will test the currency, most importantly against cyber security risks. The Bank of Israel will team up with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the Bank of International Settlements’ (BIS) Innovation Lab for the project.

The Sela project is set to start in the third quarter of the year and will try out a relatively new model of currency distribution. The digital currency will use what’s called a two-tiered architecture, which essentially gets rid of risk for the middleman. It’s designed so that intermediaries like banks can handle it with no financial exposure to customers, with the idea that this may make it less vulnerable when it comes to cyber security and cyber attacks. Findings from the trial will be released at the end of the year.

This marks Israel’s central bank’s second time entertaining the idea of a digital shekel, which it first considered in 2017 and received some public support for. Israel is one of around 100 countries embracing the digital currency trend, and this move puts them in a closer camp to places like China, which has already been working on a digital yuan that around 140 million people have tested.

To end, we’ll look into:

People are getting tired of Musk’s shenanigans

Have you ever met someone who just can’t read the room well enough to stop making jokes? Well, there’s seemingly a growing number of people who think Elon Musk might just be the tech industry’s version of that person.

On Thursday, Musk reportedly showed up 10 minutes late via video call to a Q&A session for Twitter staff, where he said, among other things, that Twitter would need to cut its headcount. He also said that Twitter should help “civilization and consciousness,” that he would talk with advertisers to say, “Hey, let’s just make sure the ads are as entertaining as possible” and that he believes users should be allowed to say “some pretty outrageous things” on the platform as long as they aren’t illegal. Apparently, when he signed off, his profile picture was an image of hands in the shape of the number 69, according to a source in the call.

Then later, he got slapped with a US$258 billion lawsuit by a Dogecoin investor who claimed that “Musk used his pedestal as World’s Richest man to operate and manipulate the Dogecoin Pyramid Scheme for profit, exposure and amusement.” The investor says that Musk hyped up the cryptocurrency only to turn around and watch it tumble. The complainant is asking for US$86 billion in damages – tripled – and for Dogecoin trading to be declared gambling under New York and federal law. Musk’s lawyers haven’t commented on the suit yet.

And then, if that wasn’t enough, employees at SpaceX, Musk’s rocket venture, are penning an open letter to the company’s executives that says that “Elon’s behavior in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, particularly in recent weeks,” and demands the company separate from Musk’s personal brand. The letter also demands that all executives and leaders in the company be held accountable for inappropriate action, likely a response to Musk’s tweets denying and mocking allegations that he sexually harassed a flight attendant on a 2016 flight.

In other news …

📉Stocks, oil and Bitcoin: World stocks fell again on Thursday after multiple rate hikes from central banks around the world sparked fears that the hawkish central bank stance would lead to a recession. The US announced new sanctions on Iran, a country to which many were looking to try and ease the current oil supply woes, pushing oil prices back up. US crude increased US$2.27 to US$117.58 per barrel; Brent rose US$1.30 to US$119.81. Bitcoin is at around US$20,238.

🛎Will there or won’t there be a recession? After the Fed hiked rates, the recession chimes are getting louder, with the Moody’s Analytics head of monetary policy research saying that while the aim is to break inflation, the risk is that the central bank will “also break the economy.” Meanwhile, not everyone’s convinced. Celebrity investor Kevin O’Leary has said there is no evidence of an impending recession.

💡“Save energy,” says Australia: We’ve mentioned that during tough times, governments ask their people to make concessions – the Japanese turning off their butt warmers; the Pakistanis asked to drink less tea. Now, Australia’s energy minister has asked the people of New South Wales, where Sydney is, to switch off their lights, specifically between 6-8 the evening if possible, to avoid blackouts.

💲Snapchat subscription: Snapchat is testing a new subscription service called Snapchat+. It would cost around US$5 a month and give subscribers access to exclusive and pre-release features.

💄Revlon files for bankruptcy: 90-year-old makeup brand Revlon has filed for bankruptcy after being unable to manage its debt and successfully evolve amid the influencer-driven makeup thunder.

🚙Ferrari EVs: Ferrari has told investors that it’ll be manufacturing “even more unique” cars and that by 2030, electric and hybrid models should make up 80% of its sales.

Kim Kardashian Marilyn Monroe dress

👗That Kim K dress: At the Met Gala this year, Kim Kardashian infamously wore the dress Marilyn Monroe wore when she sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to John F. Kennedy in 1962. Now, people are saying Kim K damaged it, with photos of some crystals missing or hanging by a thread circulating on social media. But Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum, from which Kardashian borrowed the gown, has hit back, saying the dress is fine.

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