From Ukraine pushing back and making gains to a Donkey Kong faux pas – Here’s your September 12 news briefing

From Ukraine pushing back and making gains to a Donkey Kong faux pas – Here’s your September 12 news briefing
Armoured fighting vehicles abandoned by Russian soldiers are seen during a counteroffensive operation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, in this handout picture released September 11, 2022. Press service of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS

To start off, we’re looking into:

Is Ukraine’s luck turning?

When it invaded Ukraine in February, Russia seemed way more prepared for war as a major world power with a larger military. But lately, developments have begun to turn the tide in Ukraine’s favor. Foreign sanctions are reportedly starting to affect Russia’s weapon supply, the US and Europe are continuing to send aid to Ukraine, and its military has been seeing more success.

Kharkiv, a Ukrainian region under Russian occupation, is reportedly being retaken by Ukrainian troops. In a potential breakthrough in the war, Russia’s troops have retreated from two areas in Kharkiv “to regroup" in the Moscow-backed Donetsk region. The counter-offensive forced Russia to remove its troops so they wouldn’t be surrounded, making them leave behind tons of weapons and munitions as they retreated. As Ukrainian forces push north, south and east, they’ve regained control of more than 3,000 square kilometers since the start of September, according to Ukraine’s military chief, even cutting supplies to Russian units.

Asia’s richest man is thriving in 2022

India Adani
Source: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Over the course of the pandemic, while most people experienced an intense recession, some billionaires saw their wealth multiply. By, like, a lot. For example, India suffered intensely, with millions of people pushed into poverty. In fact, India’s economic struggles made up more than half of the global poverty increase in 2020. Meanwhile, India’s wealthiest saw their combined fortunes skyrocket by tens of billions of dollars.

Now, newly-crowned the world’s third-richest person, India’s Gautam Adani is trailing right behind the second-richest, Jeff Bezos, and the world’s richest, Elon Musk. Adani is listed on the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index with a net worth of around US$143 billion. As the founder of Adani Group, his primary industry is coal, which accounts for around 62% of his conglomerates’ revenue. Now, this coal tycoon is trying to reinvent his image, pledging to invest US$70 billion by 2030 into green energy.

New nasal vaccines in China

China COVID vaccine
FILE PHOTO: A logo of China’s vaccine specialist CanSino Biologics Inc is pictured on the company’s headquarters in Tianjin, following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), China August 17, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter//File Photo

Last week, China became the first country to approve an inhalable version of the COVID vaccine. It has the same basic ingredients as the shot (using a harmless version of the virus to teach your body how to ward it off), but it comes in a different package.

We’re with you, trypanophobes – this is great news!

But scientists think there might even be added benefits to taking the vaccine this way. See, when you get it through a shot, it teaches your immune system how to fight off the virus. But, the time it takes to produce this immune response means you may still get sick. But when you take it through your respiratory system, the actual way your body lets the virus in is alerted quickly and begins its own localized immune defense. Think of it as a sort of bouncer at the door.

One study found that taking the nasal version of the vaccine as the third dose after two injections is more effective than a third jab. But it’s also worth pointing out that these studies haven’t all been peer-reviewed yet, and there’s more research needed.

To end, we’ll look into:

Did Apple just launch the next space race?

iPhone satellite
The new iPhone 14 Plus is exhibited at an Apple event at their headquarters in Cupertino, California, U.S. September 7, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Barriaa

So, if you haven’t heard, Apple just launched the new iPhone 14, and it’s a doozy. Among the phone’s many features (including a controversial island hole punch for notifications and the camera), it’s included satellite access for its new phones. If you’re excited about making phone calls from the middle of nowhere, tamp down your expectations now – this feature will be used almost exclusively for emergencies at this point.

That said, this is still a big deal. Apple approached a company called Globalstar back in 2019, and after a lot of talks, they came to a deal where Apple would use 85% of the company’s capacity for its satellite feature. There have also been reports (including a tweet by everyone’s favorite loose-lipped CEO, Elon Musk) that Apple might be partnering with Starlink down the road.

Apple isn’t the only company going for the satellite side of things, though. Chinese company Huawei recently said its new Mate 50 phones would have similar tech. And Google, which owns Android, has said it’s working on the software side so Android phones can start doing the same kind of thing.

This is all great news for the Globalstars and the Starlinks of the world, which are in an industry that analysts say will grow a ton in the coming years. While now everything is based on cell towers and the signal they provide, we could be eventually looking at systems that use both cell towers and satellite signals to provide WiFi service no matter where you are in the world.

For now, though, the tech will mostly be used for natural disasters and emergencies so people can send their location and a distress notification to authorities for help. This will be huge, too – imagine what it will mean for, say, a family stranded in their home after a hurricane.

All in all, it’s pretty rad tech.

In other news …

🚫Ukraine shuts down power plant: The Russian-held Zaporizhzhia power plant in Ukraine has been creating a lot of anxiety as it’s been shelled during the war. People are nervous there will be some kind of nuclear disaster. As a safety measure, it’s been shut down, and it’s preparing to transfer to a cold state.

🔴North Korea’s red button is on standby: North Korea announced that if Kim Jong Un were to be assassinated, it would “automatically" launch nukes. This measure is now official, with Kim delegating his strike authority for this case in a new law.

📢Former Afghan president supports protesting students: On Twitter, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on the ruling Taliban to reopen girls’ high schools. He also applauded female students who have been publicly protesting.

😷Hong Kong quarantine developments: As the city has moved to its ‘3+4’ model of quarantine for foreign travel, some hotels are pulling out of the government’s quarantine scheme to better cater to a local market. And now, Hong Kong is also relaxing some COVID travel restrictions at airports, loosening restrictions for quarantining flight crews.

🤔Antigua and Barbuda to vote on removing monarchy: Antigua and Barbuda is a former British colony, and even now, as an independent nation, it still recognizes the British monarch as its head of state. But, with the recent death of Queen Elizabeth, the country will hold a referendum on becoming a republic and removing King Charles III as its head. This transition would take a few years.

🤴Another royal perk: Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, her son Charles isn’t only inheriting the throne; he’s also inheriting a US$750 million estate … which he doesn’t have to pay taxes on due to a rule from 1993 exempting the royals.

👉Could we get an Instagram repost feature?: Instagram is rolling out a new feature for testing: the repost. Right now, users can DM other users’ public posts to their friends and put them on their Stories. But, in the future, we may be able to repost them directly to our feeds.

🙊Donkey Wrong: Forensic experts are accusing the world record-holder Billy Mitchell of cheating at Donkey Kong. In an extensive report, a new forensic analysis claims Mitchell scored the records on an emulator and not on original hardware, which is essentially cheating. Mitchell is a record-holder on several classic arcade games.

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