From Russia buying weapons from North Korea to the end of an era with Queen Elizabeth II’s death – Here’s your September 9 news briefing

From Russia buying weapons from North Korea to the end of an era with Queen Elizabeth II’s death – Here’s your September 9 news briefing
FILE PHOTO: State flags of Russia and North Korea fly in a street near a church during the visit of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un to Vladivostok, Russia April 25, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Maltsev

To start off, we’re looking into:

Is Russia buying weapons from North Korea?

According to US intelligence, Russia isn’t having the easiest time recruiting soldiers. And with a major series of Western economic sanctions against Russia, the country’s supply lines are finally seeing effects. Basically, Western sanctions have limited Russia’s ability to buy weapons and equipment for making weapons, which is kind of a crucial part of any military strategy. While Russia initially wanted China to help supply it with this stuff, Beijing doesn’t seem to want to get involved in all that.

This week, reports have surfaced of Russia trying to get its hands on weapons and ammunition from North Korea and Iran. The Russian ambassador to the UN has already denied these claims, calling the report “fake," but the White House says otherwise. Any arms sales to Russia by North Korea would be a violation of UN resolutions banning the country from exporting or importing weapons.

An Israel-China free-trade deal is incoming

China Israel
Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan co-chairs the fifth meeting of China-Israel Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation (JCIC) with Yair Lapid, Israel’s alternate prime minister and foreign minister, via video link in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 24, 2022. (Xinhua/Liu Bin)

Since the early 2000s, cooperation between China and Israel has accelerated. China has boosted its average yearly investment in Israel from 2002, with its annual investment ballooning from US$20 million to more than US$200 million. Mainly, they help each other out with technology and infrastructure. Last year, China actually became Israel’s greatest source of imports, surpassing the US. So, for the past few years, China and Israel have been talking about a free trade agreement, which would deepen their business ties.

On Wednesday, an Israeli official said that the two countries aim to sign a free-trade agreement by the end of this year. With China’s ongoing trade issues and tensions with Australia and the US, this could be a great trade boost for the country, and it would also be its first deal in the Middle East. As China continues to deal with record-breaking heat wave and drought, this agreement could also help ease some agricultural woes.

The Queen is dead

Queen Elizabeth
FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth views the interior of the refurbished East Wing of Somerset House at King’s College in London February 29, 2012. The Queen is celebrating her sixtieth anniversary as Regent in 2012. REUTERS/Eddie Mulholland/POOL (BRITAIN – Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT EDUCATION TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Queen Elizabeth II died earlier today. She was 96 years old, and in her 70-year reign as Britain’s monarch, she had 15 prime ministers, from Winston Churchill to the newly appointed Liz Truss. Elizabeth unexpectedly came to the throne at just 25 years old in 1952 after her father’s death. She was the queen through the loss of most of England’s colonies and helped guide the country through immense hardships. The royal family gathered at Balmoral today, and thousands of people mourned her death in crowds outside Buckingham Palace.

Now, her son Prince Charles takes the throne as King Charles. The king is 73 and has spent more time than anyone else in history as heir to the throne. Toward the end of the queen’s life, he took on more and more of her ceremonial duties as her health wavered in her older age. Now, King Charles is expected to continue with his campaigns for a better environment and expanding education and opportunities for young people in the UK. Since his ascension, some Caribbean members of the Commonwealth have also begun calling to remove the monarch as head of state.

To end, we’ll look into:

Scientists think there are health benefits to magic mushrooms

We’ve all felt a bit lonely at times and maybe wondered why we aren’t more connected to the people around us. But many philosophers would argue that those feelings come from an illusion – a hallucination of the self. Basically, this argument says that the belief that you’re your own entity living through the world is the idea of self, and it’s all fake.

If you’re feeling a little skeptical, that’s totally fair; for a long time, people have debated the idea. But now, neuroscientists are advancing with some studies that might just prove these philosophers right.

These neuroscientists are working with psilocybin, the psychoactive component found in “magic” mushrooms. See, normally, your brain runs on what’s called a DMN, or default mode network, according to neuroscientist Robin Carhart-Harris. Harris says the DMN is the “orchestrator of the self,” and this sense of identity in psychoanalytic terms is known as the ego. This can be a really good thing since the ego helps protect us from, say, people who might want to take advantage of our kindness. But it can also get in the way of a sense of community and lead to those feelings of loneliness or disconnectedness.

But some studies have shown that psilocybin can shift your brain from the DMN to a new kind of network, where you feel more connected to others. These effects of the drugs are temporary, but they can trigger an experience that subjects describe as life-altering.

Think about it this way – when your brain is in DMN mode, you’re the main character of the story. Everything you see and do relates to how your experience is yours and no one else’s. When you get out of that DMN mode, the society you live in becomes the protagonist of the story, and you feel your role in it instead of the other way around. Muting the ego allows us to “lose the inhibiting influence on one’s own narrative, which leads to insights that are kept from consciousness,” Carhart-Harris says.

People say a mix of perspectives is important, and it isn’t like getting out of that DMN mode is a good permanent change. But studies are increasingly showing that that shift can help people with anxiety, depression and PTSD and that it could even be a path to help people quit smoking, drinking or being violent. Far out, man.

In other news …

📈Stocks: MSCI’s global gauge of stocks is at 2,636.17, an increase of 0.84%.

📰Some specifics:

  • S&P 500 went up by 0.66% to 4,006.18.
  • Nasdaq Composite rose up by 0.60% to 11,862.13.
  • Dow Jones is up 0.61% to 31,774.52.
  • Hang Seng Index is down 1% today, settling at 18,854.62.

🧠Some quick factors to bear in mind:

  • Markets are still on a downward trend as expectations of a 0.75 percentage point rate hike this month grow. Still, the Fed’s Powell mentioned inflation would be controlled without the “very high social costs" usually associated with inflation curbs.
  • GDP estimates in China are slipping; Nomura Holdings cut its full-year forecast to 2.7%, down from its 2.8% estimate in August. This is in response to new COVID lockdowns and restrictions, including in the tech hub of Shenzhen.
  • Dutch investment firm Prosus NV continued its stake cutbacks in Tencent, another signal from early backers who want to step back from betting on Chinese companies. Tencent shares worth US$7.6 billion had earlier appeared in Hong Kong’s clearing and settlement system, which can be an early sign of offloading stock.

👄Some comments and chatter:

  • “It’s incredibly ironic that investors are even considering a Fed pivot when the real fed funds rate remains about as most negative as it has historically been. So the Fed isn’t even really heartily fighting inflation yet. We don’t have a positive real fed funds rate. It’s hard to argue that we should turn wildly bullish anytime soon.” Richard Bernstein Advisors CEO Richard Bernstein said yesterday on CNBC’s “Closing Bell: Overtime.”
  • “People are worried that the big holder will keep selling their stake and there is no timetable when their sale will end. This kind of changes in the clearing system will always trigger worries that more selling will happen in near future,” said Steven Leung, executive director at Uob Kay Hian (Hong Kong) Ltd.

🛢Oil: Crude prices are up a little after a big drop yesterday as investors bought the dip. Brent futures rose 1.3% to US$89.15 a barrel, and US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude is up 2.0%, settling at US$83.54.

👛Bitcoin: Bitcoin stayed pretty stable, up 0.05% to US$19,302.60 at the time of writing.

😢The orphans of COVID: According to a new study, 10.5 million children worldwide lost a parent or primary guardian due to death from COVID. The study shows that 7.5 of those children were orphaned, and 3 million lost a single caregiver.

👮‍♂️The US calls for Israel to review IDF rules: On Wednesday, Israel rejected a US call to review the Israel Defense Force’s (IDF) rules of engagement with the West Bank. This call comes as part of accountability steps after the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

🔍Canada’s stabbing suspect has died: The second of the two suspects in a mass stabbing in Saskatchawan died following his capture into custody. How did he die? Some officials are saying he died from self-inflicted injuries. Police are now investigating.

💣The Kharkiv counter-offensive: Ukraine launched a counter-offensive in the occupied city of Kharkiv. And now, reports show some Russian soldiers abandoning their positions there.

🍚India curbs rice exports: India is about to tax rice exports to secure domestic supply. This will affect the global food market and may contribute to world hunger, as India is the world’s biggest rice supplier.

🤝Putin and Xi will meet: President Putin and President Xi Jinping have planned to meet next week in Uzbekistan, which could signal warming relations between Russia and China. Russia has confirmed the meeting, but China isn’t saying much about it at the moment.

💉Hong Kong vaccine pass: Hong Kong will require children as young as five to prove vaccination for certain indoor activities, like indoor dining, after September 30. This mandate is aimed to help protect young children from the virus.

🏎Tesla’s China-made cars on the rise: Despite supply issues in China following an energy crisis, Tesla’s factories in the mainland are back at it. Tesla ​​delivered 76,965 Chinese-made vehicles in August, just shy of June’s record and a sharp rise from suspended operations in July.

🚫Dutch city bans meat ads: The Netherlands city of Haarlem is about to become the first to ban public ads for meat (yeah, like, the kind you eat). This decision comes as an effort to help curb consumption to help reduce carbon emissions. Recent studies suggest that animals raised for meat make up twice the pollution of producing plant-based foods.

🎈A real-life “Up”: In China, a man spent two days up in the air in a hydrogen balloon. He traveled 200 miles after his balloon came untethered while harvesting pine nuts from a tree. Rescuers called his cell phone and instructed him how to let the air out of the balloon to land safely.