From former prime ministers facing legal troubles to dogs loving us more than we ever realized – Here’s your August 24 news briefing

From former prime ministers facing legal troubles to dogs loving us more than we ever realized – Here’s your August 24 news briefing
Supporters of former Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan block a road with a car, as they gather to prevent his arrest on anti-terrorism charges, in Islamabad Pakistan, August 22, 2022. REUTERS/Waseem Khan

To start off, we’re looking into:

Pakistan’s former PM is charged with terrorism

Booted out earlier this year by a no-confidence vote in Parliament, former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has claimed that him being kicked out was a conspiracy between the US, the Pakistani military and his successor, and he’s been hosting mass rallies in a bid to return to office. Khan has publicly criticized state officials and police, reportedly saying that he and his supporters will “take action” against them.

On Sunday, authorities filed terrorism charges against Khan following his most recent speech. The government also banned live broadcasts of his speeches on TV. Under Pakistan’s 1997 anti-terrorism law, police were given broader powers amid a wave of sectarian violence. The law has also targeted other politicians, and critics say it can be used for political purposes and to sidestep constitutional protections.

But, a court issued a “protective bail” for Khan, which means he can’t yet be arrested. On Thursday, Khan must appear before an anti-terrorism court and receive further protective bail to avoid jail.

Malaysia’s former PM loses a final appeal

Najib Razak
Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak walks out from the Federal Court during a court break, in Putrajaya, Malaysia August 23, 2022. REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin

Serving as the Malaysian Prime Minister from 2009 to 2018, Najib Razak has been in the midst of a multi-billion dollar graft scandal. In July 2020, Najib was found guilty of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money laundering. This conviction comes from allegedly receiving US$10 million from SRC International, a former unit of state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a fund set up that was meant to aid economic development throughout Malaysia. But, investigators say up to US$4.5 billion was stolen from the fund co-founded by Najib, and over US$1 billion went into accounts linked to him. The massive scandal also caused the US State Department to open its biggest kleptocracy investigation.

Yesterday, Malaysia’s top court upheld Najib’s 2020 conviction. In fact, the five-person court ruled unanimously against him. After appealing for years, he hasn’t served any prison time yet. Now, he’ll serve 12 years and is the country’s first former prime minister to be jailed. Before the court announced this verdict, Najib made a speech protesting the higher court’s refusal to delay the appeal and let his lawyers prepare for the case. He’d also attempted to get Chief Justice Maimun Tuan Mat off the case altogether, claiming she was biased.

JWST gets new Jupiter pics

Webb NIRCam composite image from two filters – F212N (orange) and F335M (cyan) – of Jupiter system, unlabeled (top) and labeled (bottom). Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Jupiter ERS Team; image processing by Ricardo Hueso (UPV/EHU) and Judy Schmidt.

About a month ago, the stunning first photos from the US$10 billion James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) were released to the public, with a promise that more photos of all sorts of things in the universe would be getting their time in the spotlight.

Well, on Tuesday, that thing was the planet Jupiter, and the JWST photos of it look different from any picture you’ve ever seen of the gas giant before. See, the camera uses a series of filters that turn infrared light into visible light that humans can see, so instead of the bright orange and red planet most of us are used to seeing, the planet looks bluer.

Scientists were really excited about these pictures, though. In addition to being some of the most detailed photos of the planet yet, they’re also able to see some things that we haven’t been able to see in the past. You can see the planet’s Great Red Spot, a storm that “could swallow the Earth,” NASA said, in bright white, its auroras coming off the poles in a brilliant red-green, and you can even see Jupiter’s moons and satellites.

To end, we’ll look into:

Australian tennis player Kyrgios is in trouble

What’s the only thing snobbier than going to a tennis tournament at Wimbledon stadium in London? Well, it’s suing over what someone said about you at a tennis tournament at Wimbledon stadium in London, of course!

So back in July, when the men’s final was going on at Wimbledon stadium, Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios complained to the umpire that a woman in the stands was drunk and distracting during the match. When the umpire said he didn’t know who Nick was talking about, Kyrgios said the woman was “drunk out of her mind" and that “she’s had about 700 drinks." (*insert aggressive Australian accent here)

The woman was Anna Palus, a Polish lawyer, and she was escorted away from her seat, given some water and then allowed to return. Well, now, Palus is launching a lawsuit against Kyrgios for defamation. She said she’d only had two drinks at the final she was attending with her mother and that his comments brought her a lot of bad attention.

“Not only did this cause considerable harm on the day, resulting in my temporary removal from the arena," said Palus, “but Mr Kyrgios’s false allegation was broadcast to, and read by, millions around the world, causing me and my family very substantial damage and distress."

This kind of case is particularly effective in the UK. See, where the US tends to give a lot more leeway to people’s right to free speech, the UK tends to be more apt to protect people’s reputations. So instead of Palus having to prove that defamation did happen, it’ll be up to Kyrgios to prove that it didn’t.

There’s no real telling how this case will go in the end, but Kyrgios isn’t exactly known for being a sympathetic soul, having a reputation as someone with a bad temper, especially in-game. He’s also in the middle of a court battle over allegations that he assaulted his former girlfriend.

“I hope that Mr Kyrgios will reflect on the harm he has caused me and my family and offer a prompt resolution to this matter," said Palus. “However, if he is unwilling to do this, I am committed to obtaining vindication in the High Court."

In other news …

📉Stocks: MSCI’s global gauge of stocks is down 0.21% to 2,730.35.

📰Some specifics:

  • S&P 500 is down 0.22% to 4,128.73.
  • Nasdaq held steady around 12,381.30.
  • Dow Jones dropped 0.47% to 32,909.59.
  • Hang Seng Index is down 0.78% to 19,503.25.

🧠Some quick factors to bear in mind:

  • Traders are concerned about more possible rate hikes from the Fed, and as the 10-year Treasury yield climbed above 3%, investors are looking at a potentially volatile week on the market as they prepare for the worst.
  • The American housing market isn’t doing too hot, as sales of new US single-family homes slid to a 6-1/2-year low last month. But, this shows that the Fed’s tactics for battling inflation do seem to be working, combined with data showing that private sector business activity fell to a 27-month low.
  • Gearing up for winter, the US economy is looking at an upcoming energy price shock, with natural gas prices currently at their highest since 2008, especially amid fears about Europe’s energy disruptions. These are also affecting Asia’s market, and as energy prices spike there, a fear of recession looms over China.

👄Some comments and chatter:

“This bear in our view has one last act," read a note from Lisa Shalett, head of the global investment committee at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.

“We do not expect the regional power rationing to extend much beyond summer, as temperatures will fall. On a national basis, we maintain our assumption for China’s power consumption to increase by a mid-to-low single digit in 2022, aligned with our latest forecast of 3.7% for China’s GDP growth," said a statement from Fitch Ratings on Monday.

🛢Oil: With Saudi Arabia warning that it could cut oil output, demand is up. US crude futures rose 3.7% to settle at US$93.74 per barrel, and Brent is up 3.9% at US$100.22.

👛Bitcoin: Bitcoin is up 0.65% to US$21,538.30 at the moment.

📃Trump files FBI suit: After having classified documents seized by the FBI from his home in Mar-a-Lago, former US President Donald Trump is filing a lawsuit. The suit says that a third party should examine the materials and decide what can be used in the FBI’s investigation of Trump, as some of the documents could be privileged.

💣Beirut silos collapse: Two years after the catastrophic Beirut explosion, another section of the silos collapsed. No injuries were reported, as the area has been evacuated since the explosion. The silos are responsible for shielding a large part of the city from the blasts in August 2020 that killed hundreds and injured thousands more, destroying entire neighborhoods.

🚢Chinese ship leaves Sri Lanka: After a week at the Sri Lankan dock Hambantota, China’s military research ship, Yuan Wang 5, set off. Docking in Sri Lanka was controversial, as neighboring India was afraid that Hambantota could become some sort of Chinese military base.

🤔Hong Kong weighs quarantine exemptions: For an upcoming November investment summit, Hong Kong officials are considering an exception to their current COVID protocol. They may allow summit participants to skip mandatory hotel quarantine so that the summit can continue even if COVID curbs for travelers are still in place.

🚂Ukraine restores rail line: After 23 years of not working, a rail link between Ukraine and Moldova has been restored. It can carry up to 10 million tons of freight a year. As Ukraine looks for ways to export its stockpile of grain, this could become a major trade outlet.

📷Finnish PM apologizes for photo: More on Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin. She has issued an official apology for a topless photo of guests at her residence. The photo was widely shared on social media yesterday, and Marin said it shouldn’t have been taken at all. Otherwise, she claims the gathering was normal.

💼Japan to allow more tourists: As one of the last remaining rich economies with strict COVID protocol, Japan is finally set to ease up a bit. It’ll begin allowing double the amount of tourists currently arriving (from 20,000 to 50,000) and could even ease the COVID test requirements for entry.

Game on in Ukraine: Ukraine’s premier football league is ready to play for the first time since the Russian invasion. The first game was yesterday in Kyiv. Even without fans in attendance and bomb shelters nearby, the season must go on!

🐶Tears of joy: A new study reveals that a dog’s eyes will literally start tearing up when it’s reunited with its owner after an extended period of time. Usually, dog tears aren’t associated with their emotions, but this could be evidence of a tearful emotional response linked to oxytocin, or “the love hormone," which might just explain why pups are such pals. We’re not crying; you’re crying.

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