From cyberspying accusations to lots of space news – Here’s your September 7 news briefing

From cyberspying accusations to lots of space news – Here’s your September 7 news briefing
FILE PHOTO: A hooded man holds a laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him in this illustration picture taken on May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration

To start off, we’re looking into:

China accuses the US of cyberspying

China, the US and Russia are pretty big deals when it comes to researching cyberwarfare. For years, it’s been the norm for the US and allies to accuse China of widespread cyberattacks and spying. Recently, though, China has begun more directly accusing the US of staging official cyberattacks on its institutions. And, it is true that the US has bulked up investments in espionage and surveillance when it comes to China and Russia.

This Monday, China called out the US for allegedly hacking into the computers of Northwestern Polytechnical University in its western city of Xi’an this past June. The university runs research programs in aeronautics, astronautics and marine technology engineering. According to China’s analysts, Washington hackers stole info on the university’s network management and other “core” tech. Reportedly, they traced network attack tools back to the National Security Agency (NSA), which is part of the US Department of Defense.

Will the Amazon rainforest ever recover?

Amazon rainforest
FILE PHOTO: Members of the A’i Cofan community guard make plans after patrolling the banks of the Aguarico River in Ecuador’s Amazon, where indigenous groups were granted power to block mining projects after a ruling by the country’s Constitutional Court, in Sinangoe, Ecuador March 5, 2022. Picture taken March 5, 2022. REUTERS/Johanna Alarcon/File Photo

The world’s largest rainforest, the Amazon, is at risk because of massive deforestation. Today, only 74% of the original forest remains. And at the forefront of protection efforts to save it are South American Indigenous groups.

A new study on the Amazon by scientists and Indigenous organizations working together was published this week, and it’s found that the rainforest has reached a tipping point due to environmental destruction. According to the study Amazonia Against the Clock, the Amazon may never recover.

And now, Indigenous groups in the region are asking for debt forgiveness so they can focus on protecting the forest. They’re requesting financial institutions forgive the debts of nations that make up the rainforest as a trade for their efforts to preserve it.

China tests new rocket engine

China rocket

So we’ve talked a lot about space recently, and with good reason. NASA is working on getting its new SLS rockets to launch off the Artemis I, the first of a series of missions to bring astronauts back to the moon.

But China hasn’t been far behind, either. The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) said on Tuesday that it had successfully completed testing a new rocket engine that’s even more powerful than NASA’s RL10 engine (which is what the SLS rockets use). That said, the purpose is a little different between the two, and the head scientist over the project said that the larger these engines get, the more serious the problems could be.

These rocket engines are expected to help China in its version of SLS, called the Long March-9, which is designed to bring space vessels into deeper parts of space than we’ve explored before, including crewed trips to Mars.

To end, we’ll look into:

NASA’s Dart will hit an asteroid in space

Source: NASA/JHUAPL/Steve Gribben

If you watched “Don’t Look Up,” and walked away from it having laughed but also trying to hide the fact that you now worry about asteroids hitting the Earth, you’re not alone. In fact, the folks over at NASA are light years ahead of you (pun absolutely intended).

The mission is called DART, which stands for Double Asteroid Redirection Test. “We know asteroids have hit us in the past,” said astronomer Alan Fitzsimmons, a Queen’s University Belfast professor. “These impacts are a natural process and they are going to happen in the future. We would like to stop the worst of them. The problem is that we have never tested the technology which will be needed to do that. That is the purpose of Dart.”

All told, the mission is pretty simple. Basically, NASA sent the Dart robot spacecraft up back in November. Now it’s working on building up some serious speed, so it can crash into the asteroid and attempt to change its direction. A few days out from the impact, a small satellite will separate from the Dart to send pics back to Earth. And then, there’s impact day, when the Dart will hit the target at about four miles per second.

Now to be clear, this is just a test. NASA isn’t looking to blow an asteroid into tiny pieces but rather to see the effects of slamming a satellite into a big rock in space. This particular asteroid is in orbit around a much bigger one, so the question is how much the orbit changes when you hit it. The experiment is scheduled to brace for impact on September 27.

In the best case scenario, assuming everything goes to plan, scientists will have learned a lot about ways to protect the Earth from devastating asteroid hits in the future, and American taxpayers will only be out US$330 million. Individually, that’s probably a lot cheaper than buying a seat on one of Elon Musk’s future escape pods.

In other news …

📉Stocks: MSCI’s global gauge of stocks is down 0.45% to 2,584.97.

📰Some specifics:

  • S&P 500 fell 0.41% to 3,908.19.
  • Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.74% to 11,544.91.
  • Dow Jones decreased 0.55% to 31,145.30.
  • Hang Seng Index fell 0.1% to 19,202.73.

🧠Some quick factors to bear in mind:

  • The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) non-manufacturing PMI went up to 56.9 last month, beating economists’ expectations and showing the US services industry picked up for the second straight month. Friday’s jobs release also beat Wall Street’s expectations. This shows a stronger US economy than anticipated and suggests that the economy is not in recession even though GDP contracted in the first half of the year.
  • This month, it is widely expected that the Fed will raise its interest rate by another 75 basis points, bringing the range between 3.0% and 3.25%. The better-than-expected economic data could motivate it to continue its aggressive interest campaign against inflation.
  • Meanwhile, in the East, Hong Kong stocks are struggling at a five-month low following the lockdown of another key auto-manufacturing base in the mainland’s Chengdu.
  • And China’s declining real estate sector could be a catalyst for Chinese stock indexes to plunge 20% over the next year from current levels if it doesn’t see some government support ASAP, according to Morgan Stanley.

👄Some comments and chatter:

  • “You have all this fear that more rate increases are going to happen at the central bank level, inflation is not going to dissipate and then you’ve got the quantitative tightening that’s coming pretty rapidly," said Tom di Galoma, managing director at Seaport Global Holdings in New York.
  • “China’s zero-COVID policy, with the latest lockdowns, has added pressures to the market as traders expect a negative impact on the economy,” said Dickie Wong, executive director of research at Kingston Securities. China might roll out supportive measures to shore up recovery, he added.

🛢Oil: Oil prices are falling with the prospect of more interest rate hikes. Brent crude went to US$92.83 a barrel, slipping by 3%. But US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) went up to US$86.88 a barrel.

👛Bitcoin: Bitcoin tumbled by 4.74% to reach US$18,855.40 at time of writing.

🏢Russian embassy attacked in Kabul: On Monday, a suicide bomber detonated explosives near the entrance of the Russian embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. At least 10 people were injured, and six are confirmed dead (two of whom were embassy staff). The Islamic State militant group claimed the attack, and the Taliban has said it will work to secure embassies within the country.

📊BB&B shares tumble after CFO’s suicide: US home goods store Bed Bath & Beyond’s stocks are falling after its CFO, Gustavo Arnal, jumped from his high-rise apartment building in Manhattan last Friday. Arnal was in deep water as the defendant of a class action suit over a pump and dump scheme. The company’s shares are down around 15%, and it’s trying to avoid bankruptcy already – BB&B announced it would lay off 20% of its corporate workforce last week.

👮‍♀️4 arrested in Hong Kong for 3D printing … guns: Four suspects have been arrested in Hong Kong for having firearms and ammunition without a license. They also had a 3D printer capable of creating weapon parts. Officials are still trying to figure out what they were planning on doing with them.

🙌Taiwan is ready to help China: Yesterday, Taiwan expressed condolences to China for the deadly earthquake in Sichuan. Although the two are currently dealing with escalating tensions, Taiwan has offered to send rescuers to help search for people in danger. China hasn’t yet responded.

💻The Webb Telescope image that hosts malware: Remember that famous James Webb Telescope photo released a few months ago of a cluster of galaxies in super high definition? Well, it’s currently hosting a nasty bit of malware through a new campaign called GO#WEBBFUSCATOR. So, be careful what you download because anti-virus programs aren’t detecting it.

🚔Second suspect is Canada shooting on the lam: Two brothers are suspected in a mass stabbing in Saskatchewan, Canada, over the weekend. One of them is dead, but the other remains at large. There were 10 deaths, and 18 people were injured.

🌀South Korea dodges typhoon trouble: Typhoon Hinnamnor hit South Korea yesterday but passed through so quickly that it caused little damage. Heavy rains and blackouts struck the southern coast, but this is nothing like the major floods that hit the country in August. So far, three people have died, and eight are currently missing.

🚗Shanghai’s intelligent car boom: Shanghai thinks intelligent cars have the potential to produce 500 billion yuan (US$72 billion) in the next two years. So, the local government wants to establish an ”innovation and development system” to ramp up intelligent car production, aiming for about 70% of all cars to have some smart features by 2025, specifically self-driving capabilities.

🏎Porsche plans blockbuster IPO: Porsche is expected to go public in a few weeks despite economic turbulence. The plan is for up to 12.5% of Porsche to be offered to investors in the form of preference shares. The initial public offering could value Porsche as high as US$84.4 billion, raising Volkswagen more than US$10.4 billion and setting it up to be one of Europe’s biggest IPOs ever.

🚢New Titanic footage released: This week, new footage of the 110-year-old Titanic wreck has been released. The video is in stunning 8K quality, showing an insane level of detail and color from its latest exploration. Now, features of the ship that have never been visible to the public can be seen, like the name of the anchor marker.