To start off, we’re looking into:
Musk sells Tesla stocks in case he has to buy Twitter
Elon Musk has been in a pretty hairy court battle with Twitter after trying to pull out of the deal to buy the social media giant unless it proved that less than 5% of its accounts were fake. Twitter then sued Musk to try to get him to follow through with the merger.
In case that deal does go through, though, this week, Musk has sold around 7.92 million shares or US$6.9 billion worth of Tesla stock to fund the potential Twitter purchase. This selloff was called out by a Tesla investor on Twitter who wrote, “are you done selling?” because it comes after Musk sold off about US$8.4 billion worth of stock back in April and said he didn’t plan on selling anymore to finance the deal.
Musk took to Twitter to explain that it was important to avoid any kind of sudden emergency sale if he did end up having to buy the social media company. He also said that if the Twitter deal didn’t end up going through, he’d buy stock in Tesla again.
Japan’s Kishida church’s anger
Last October, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida took office. He’s a member of the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, replacing former LDP Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In July, Abe was assassinated by someone who hated the Unification Church, to which the LPD is linked to. The Unification Church has been referred to as a “cult.” It’s known for its mass weddings, fishy fundraising tactics, the inclusion of guns in religious ceremonies, and conservative, anti-communist values. There’s been public criticism of LPD’s association with the group.
At the moment, Kishida is reshuffling his cabinet, with seven ministers with known ties to this church being removed from his cabinet. Kishida himself isn’t associated with the church and has said that the church’s policies haven’t “unjustly influenced party policies.” But, his approval ratings are the lowest they’ve been since he took office at 46%. Many Japanese people are concerned that many politicians’ ties to the church haven’t been fully disclosed. Now, plans to host a state funeral for Abe next month have been overshadowed by this whole scandal.
Kenya’s next president is … loading
President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya is leaving office, leaving the presidential race between two newcomers. The two frontrunners are Deputy President William Ruto and veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga. So far, Kenyan media has shown that this race would be close; the winner must get 50% plus one vote. But, when it comes to policy, the main issues discussed have been the country’s high living costs, unemployment and corruption.
When it was time to vote on Tuesday, though, the turnout was actually pretty low. About 65% of the 22.1 million registered voters ended up casting ballots, which is compared to the nearly 80% in the 2017 election. But the head of the electoral commission says that this number should go up. Other factors leading to the low turnout could include drought in the north and voter frustration with ongoing economic problems. Now, the electoral commission has seven days to announce the results.
To end, we’ll look into:
Ex-Twitter employee accused of spying for the Saudi crown prince
If spying and espionage are charges you thought died during the Cold War, think again.
On Tuesday, a jury convicted Ahmad Abouammo, a former Twitter employee, of spying for the government of Saudi Arabia by collecting personal information of dissidents and critics of the royal family in the country and turning that information over to them.
Abouammo is a US resident born in Egypt and worked as a media partnership manager for Twitter in 2015. He basically helped important people in the Middle East and Africa promote their accounts and create better content. But in that position, he collected the personal data of users who were critical of the Saudi government, like phone numbers, email addresses and birthdays. He would then send it over to a contact who was a top aid to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and in exchange, he would get rewarded with gifts. Think watches and cash.
Abouammo wasn’t the only one involved. In 2019, federal prosecutors in the US charged him and another former Twitter employee, Ali Alzabarah, with espionage, and eventually, authorities also included a third individual, Ahmaed Almutairi, in there too, saying that he had coordinated the whole thing. Abouammo has been the only one put into custody, and the other two are still wanted.
Once the Saudi government got this information, the crown prince reportedly used it to suppress dissidents in the country, taking the case from a pretty simple one of data privacy to one that potentially has much bigger consequences. In 2021, an activist named Ali Al-Ahmed sued Twitter, saying that his info wasn’t protected well enough.
Twitter hasn’t commented, but Abouammo’s public defender said it was a clumsy investigation and that the social media company wasn’t careful enough with user data. Abouammo faces 10 to 20 years behind bars.
In other news …
📈Stocks: MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 1.80%.
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the session up 1.63% at 33,309.51.
- S&P 500 rose 2.13% to 4,210.24.
- Nasdaq Composite added 2.89%, closing at 12,854.81.
- The Hang Seng Index fell 2% to 19,610.84.
🧠Some quick factors to bear in mind:
- US Inflation slowed down more than expected, at 8.5% rather than the projected 8.7%, leaving many breathing easier with the belief that the Fed will increase rates at a lower rate than before.
- The Fed hike is now expected to be 50 basis points instead of 75.
- Concerns about a possible recession have cooled down, but there’s still some uncertainty, with many looking to the Fed’s September meeting.
- China said that inflation increased 2.7% in July from a year before, the fastest since mid-2020.
👄Some comments and chatter:
“The Fed and other central banks face a difficult trade-off [of] trying to stabilise output or inflation, but not both. The Fed has boxed itself into responding to the politics of inflation, not to the economics of it. This has caused us to reduce portfolio risk," wrote BlackRock strategists in their midyear outlook.
With lower than expected inflation data and data showing lifted gas demand in the US, US crude settled up 1.58% at US$91.93 per barrel, and Brent settled at US$97.40, up 1.13%.
🪙Bitcoin: At the time of writing, Bitcoin is at $23,921.80, up 3.39%.
🇹🇼China publishes white paper on Taiwan: Yesterday, China published its first white paper on Taiwan in 22 years, the first one under leader Xi Jinping. Titled “The Taiwan Question and China’s Reunification in the New Era," the document outlines China’s patience in its objective to reunify with Taiwan.
🇺🇦Russia told to hand over nuclear plant: With all the danger and trouble that comes with threatening a nuclear power plant in war, Russia has finally been told to keep its hands off. Foreign ministers of the G7 say that Russia must give the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant back to Ukraine.
🐕US dog rescue: Nearly 4,000 beagles sold to a lab for experiments have been saved in what is considered one of the US’ biggest dog rescue efforts after the company was shut down for animal rights violations.
🇲🇽Mexican artists are reviving iconic muralism: A new generation of Mexican artists is reviving the Mexican art tradition of muralism from a century ago. They’re using these pieces to express social and political messages.
✈️China and UK will resume direct flights: For the first time since late 2020, direct passenger flights between the UK and China will soon be available once again. Direct flights were suspended during COVID, but this development is a sign that China’s COVID policies could be starting to relax.