From Iran cutting oil prices to a close call at Formula One – Here’s your July 5 news briefing

From Iran cutting oil prices to a close call at Formula One – Here’s your July 5 news briefing
FILE PHOTO: Oil and gas tanks are seen at an oil warehouse at a port in Zhuhai, China October 22, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song

To start off, we’re looking into:

Iran revises oil prices

After Western sanctions piled onto Russia’s economy because of the Ukraine invasion, the country slashed its oil prices, leading to increased buying interest from nations like China and India. In May, China’s imports from Russia surged 80% on year to US$10.27 billion. But aside from Russia, Iran also faces significant US sanctions.

So now, to compete for China’s interest, Iran is revising its oil price tags, pricing oil around US$10 below the price of Brent futures, which is on par with the prices of some of the Russian oil arriving in China next month. These lower prices are especially important because independent Chinese oil refineries (otherwise known as “teapots”) face stricter rules when it comes to exporting and are required to supply the domestic market first. So these independent refineries can’t sell fuel overseas where prices are higher because of the supply crunch, even if it means lower margins and losing money by taking care of domestic demand.

TikTok and US-based users’ data

TikTok data
FILE PHOTO: The TikTok logo is pictured outside the company’s U.S. head office in Culver City, California, U.S., September 15, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake

You may remember when Oracle and TikTok struck a deal in 2020 to store all of Americans’ TikTok data by default in Oracle’s cloud after US regulators and lawmakers cited national security concerns that the popular Chinese platform, which had infiltrated the hearts and minds of tens of millions of young Americans, had all their accompanying data. Last week, an FCC official said that while the TikTok videos of people dancing were popular, it was “just the sheep’s clothing,” a claim that TikTok execs have publicly pushed back against.

Now TikTok has sent a letter to US lawmakers saying it will find a way to protect the data of American users, especially in response to the concern that Chinese employees can access US user data. It said in the letter that it’s now working with Oracle to build on more advanced data security tools to do this.

Shooting in Chicago suburb

Highland Park shooting
First responders work the scene of a shooting at a Fourth of July parade on July 4, 2022 in Highland Park, Illinois. At least six people were killed, according to authorities.. Jim Vondruska/Getty Images

Six people were killed and more than two dozen hospitalized after a shooting during a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The shooting reportedly began about 15 minutes into the parade, when witnesses say that the shooter, a white man around 19 years old, began targeting people seemingly at random from a nearby rooftop.

The NorthShore University Health System said it has a total of 31 patients, most with gunshot wounds and a few that were injured in the panic that followed. At least one child is critically injured, said Highland Park Fire Chief Joe Schrage.

Police are still searching for the gunman, whom they describe as a white man aged 18-20, who is “armed and dangerous.” Officials have identified Robert “Bobby” Crimo, 22, as a person of interest and said he might be driving a 2010 silver Honda. President Biden also said he’s “surged Federal law enforcement to assist in the urgent search for the shooter.” Police have advised people living nearby to stay at home and shelter in place until the shooter is found. They said that their investigation is centered on the business district, the downtown area and along the parade route.

Illinois has the second-highest rate of mass shootings in the US, having recorded more than 200 so far in 2022. Mass shootings are defined as having more than four victims other than the shooter but seldom do mass shootings in the US have 30 victims as this one does.

This shooting comes just weeks after Congress passed bipartisan legislation to help fund mental health initiatives and put more restrictions on people under 21 buying firearms. But Democrats nationwide have argued that the legislation doesn’t go far enough and leaves weapons like assault rifles too easily accessible.

To end, we’ll look into:

After Grand Prix crash, driver Zhou credits halo for saving his life

Zhou Guanyu crash
Formula One F1 – British Grand Prix – Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone, Britain – July 3, 2022 Alfa Romeo’s Guanyu Zhou crashes out at the start of the race REUTERS/Molly Darlington

On Sunday, the British Grand Prix opened in true F1 fashion with a dramatic multi-car crash in the first lap. Chinese driver Zhou Guanyu’s car spun out of control and slammed into the fence after several rolls of the car.

The wreck left his vehicle badly damaged, but after a trip to the medical center, he said he was OK. What saved him? He credits the halo.

No, we’re not talking about some divine intervention. The halo is a safety feature included in F1 cars that is essentially a titanium and carbon fiber ring that surrounds the driver’s helmet. The idea is that it absorbs any massive impact headed towards a driver’s head, be it debris from another vehicle or obstacles the car crashes into. And the halo can surely take a hit, designed to withstand the weight of a London double-decker bus.

When it was initially introduced, it faced pushback and scrutiny from F1 drivers and teams who said that they preferred the look and feel of the more open cockpit. “I’m not impressed with the whole thing and if you give me a chainsaw I would take it off,” said Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff in 2018 at their car launch.

But so far, the halo has been credited with saving the lives of at least four drivers. After the crash, former FIA president Jean Todt tweeted: “Glad I followed my convictions in imposing the halo, despite a strong opposition.”

In other news …

📈Stocks, oil and Bitcoin: With Monday a US holiday, world stocks rose in holiday-thinned trade. MSCI’s gauge of global stocks index increased 0.38% after losing 2.3% last week. On Wednesday, the Fed’s meeting minutes from its June meeting will be released, and since they hiked rates by 75 basis points, investors expect the sentiment to be hawkish. With that, the market is placing an 85% chance of another 75 basis point rate hike this month, putting it at 3.25% to 3.5% by the end of the year.

🛢Oil prices dropped earlier on Monday because of how the global economy was looking, with people expecting demand to drop. But then they roared back again after data showed less output from OPEC+ nations. On top of that, aside from the sanctions against Russia, there’s unrest in Libya, Ecuador and Norway, all leading to potential supply cuts. Brent is at US$113.02, and US crude is at US$109.76.

💲Bitcoin is at around US$19,816.

🇩🇰Denmark shooting: A 22-year-old suspected of killing three people has been charged with murder. The suspect was supposedly in the police’s periphery, had mental health issues and was described by the police as an “ethnic Dane." Two Danish citizens aged 17 and a 47-year-old Russian citizen were killed.

👨‍💻Biden and Chinese tariffs: According to people familiar with the matter, Biden may announce a rollback on some US tariffs on Chinese goods as soon as this week to try and make things cheaper for Americans as inflation roars on. But this announcement may also come with an investigation into China’s subsidies.

🇦🇺Australia and Ukraine: At a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, Australia’s PM Albanese said that the country would be imposing travel bans and sanctions on 16 more Russian oligarchs and ministers, which would bring the total to 843 individuals. Australia will also supply 34 more armored vehicles and ban Russian gold imports.

🇷🇺US and Russia clash in Beijing: In a rare joint appearance in Beijing, US ambassador Nicholas Burns told the World Peace Forum that Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine was “the greatest threat to world order." He added that it was a “direct violation of the UN Charter." But Russian ambassador Andrey Denisov said he completely disagreed and that “NATO, in essence, is involved in the war with Russia through proxies."

Xiao on trial: Chinese-Canadian billionaire Xiao Jianhua went missing from the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong five years ago. He was known to have links to the CCP’s elite and hasn’t been seen in public since 2017, when he was being probed during a government-led conglomerate crackdown. While specifics aren’t known, the Canadian embassy in Beijing said that Xiao is due to go on trial on Monday.

🎾The Kyrgios-Tsitsipas match: We mentioned that Australia’s Nick Kyrgios and Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas had a fiery match yesterday. Now they have both been fined. Kyrgios needs to pay US$4,000 for audible obscenity, and Tsitsipas was fined US$10,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct.

🇹🇭Thailand cracks down on cheap tourists: Thailand tourists are divided into two predominant groups – the rowdy kind on a budget that obnoxiously scoots throughout Phuket in the wee hours of the morning and the ones segregated in private villas that have a minimal hint of culture in their stay. Now, government ministers have come out to say that, well, they prefer the latter. “We cannot let people come to Thailand and say because it’s cheap," said Deputy Prime Minister Charnvirakul.

🇭🇰Hong Kong and China border: Hong Kong’s new health secretary said he hoped the Shenzhen border with Hong Kong would open before August 4.

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