From Putin and Erdoğan’s private meeting to Amazon’s purchase of iRobot – Here’s your August 8 news briefing

From Putin and Erdoğan’s private meeting to Amazon’s purchase of iRobot – Here’s your August 8 news briefing
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan meets with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia August 5, 2022. Turkish Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS

Turkey and Russia are in talks

Historically, Russia and Turkey are economically tied. But Turkey is a member of NATO and a major weapon supplier to Ukraine. But it hasn’t imposed sanctions on Russia like the West and clashes with Russia when it comes to the conflict in Syria.

On Friday, Erdogan and Putin met again in the southern Russian city of Sochi. The two said the talk was about transport, agriculture, finance, and construction cooperation. They also talked about Syria, and Erdogan said it would make some of the country’s oil payments in rubles.

Some rumors and reports have said that Putin is also looking to buy stakes in Turkish oil processors, which experts have said could help hide the origins of Russian oil exports before the EU oil ban. Russia may also seek a bank deal to manage financial sanctions, which would open Turkey to secondary sanctions from the West, but no specifics like this have been confirmed.

US Senate passes massive climate bill

US climate bill
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) walks into the Radio TV gallery to speak to the media after the 51-50 vote passed the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022" on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S. August 7, 2022. REUTERS/Ken Cedeno

For a while now, Democrats in the US Senate have been wrangling with Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrstin Sinema, two relatively moderate Democrats who have been negotiating versions of legislation they want. Being the 49th and 50th votes for Democrats, they held a lot of power since a 50 vote threshold is necessary to pass something.

But on Sunday, the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act, a US$739 billion bill that will pump money into climate initiatives, healthcare and the economy. The bill is the largest ever investment in climate in the US, and experts predict it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 over 2005 levels.

The bill is paid for by a new corporate minimum tax, a 1% tax on stock buybacks, and more funding for the IRS to go after tax evaders. It also allows government health entities to negotiate prescription drug prices with companies.

Truce reached in Israel-Palestine violence

Gaza truce
Palestinians, seen through a damaged car window, gather amid Israel-Gaza fighting, in the northern Gaza Strip August 7, 2022. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Last Friday, Israel ran a three-day series of preemptive air raids on Gaza against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad after it arrested a group leader, thinking it would lead to violence. Fighting back, the Jihad fired dozens of rockets into Israel.

Last night, Palestine and Israel made a truce mediated by Cairo. Hamas, the governing group of the Strip, has stayed out of the conflict. Gaza officials have said there had been over 40 deaths in Gaza; almost half were civilians and children. Israel shot down rockets launched at them. Today, there will be an emergency UN meeting to address the violence.

Amazon, iRobot and data

On Friday, Amazon announced it was buying iRobot for US$1.7 billion. You probably know iRobot from their signature autonomous vacuum, the Roomba. Experts say that Amazon can probably reduce their logistics costs a bit, as well as some of its sales,

marketing, and administrative costs, and at the end of the day, it’ll turn a bit of a profit.

But the thing about Amazon is that while they sell lots of items, they’re also really interested in your data. The more data they get, the more effectively they can do all the different things they do to make money. This is from advertising items (and selling them) to shoppers to making its supply chains more efficient.

So with the Roomba, it looks like a big goal here is also collecting data inside your house. This is especially because, during a 2017 Reuters interview, iRobot’s CEO Colin Angle said that the company might someday share that data with tech giants developing smart devices and gadgets.

We’re not talking about listening in on your private phone calls, though, but more along the lines of mapping your house.

You see, there’s a lot of information to be gained from that. For example, a relatively big house is one where perhaps more expensive items can be marketed to. A house without much furniture can get ads for some, and a house with a lot of dog toys in it means that those family members might be seeing more dog chow on their suggested items list when doing a bit of shopping online.

In other news …

🇹🇼China’s military drills near Taiwan: In a statement released by Taiwan, the country said that it had detected 14 Chinese warships and 66 Chinese aircraft in and around the Taiwan Strait. It’s not immediately clear whether China has ended its military drills as it said it would by Sunday.

🚀Rockets launched at the Ukrainian power plant: Ukraine is now accusing Russia of attacking its nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia. Rockets struck the plant on Saturday night, Russia and Ukraine trading the blame. As this is the second attack on the plant, worries of a nuclear accident are growing.

🇨🇳China’s exports: Currently, China’s trade surplus is at a record high. Exports grew 18% from a year earlier, which is compared to the 14.1% expected.

🦠COVID in china: This weekend, new lockdown measures and testing requirements were announced on Hainan island, stranding more than 80,000 tourists. Meanwhile, travel requirements in the rest of China are starting to ease up.

🇨🇴Colombia’s first left-wing president is sworn in: Yesterday, Colombia’s first leftist president began his term. A former member of Colombia’s M-19 guerrilla group, Gustavo Petro promised to tackle social and political inequalities in the country.

🇰🇪More women than ever are running in Kenya’s elections: Tuesday is Kenya’s general election, and a record number of women are running for different positions. Right now, only 23% of Kenya’s parliament is female, but more than half of Kenyan voters are women.

🧑‍⚖️Court of Elon: After promising to lay low, Musk has come back stronger than ever, creating a court of Elon and tweeting, “I hereby challenge @paraga to a public debate about the Twitter bot percentage. Let him prove to the public that Twitter has <5% fake or spam daily users!”

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