From Turkey trying to join the SCO to the Grand Theft Auto VI leaks – Here’s your September 20 news briefing

From Turkey trying to join the SCO to the Grand Theft Auto VI leaks – Here’s your September 20 news briefing
FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends an extended-format meeting of heads of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states at a summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan September 16, 2022. Foreign Ministry of Uzbekistan/Handout via REUTERS.

To start off, we’re looking into:

Will Turkey join the SCO?

Last week, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Uzbekistan hosted the leaders of many countries. The SCO is a Eurasian political, economic and security bloc headed mainly by China. Although some view the SCO as an anti-Western and anti-NATO body, the Central Asian member-states have collaborative relationships with the US and Europe. At this year’s summit, Azerbaijan and Turkey attended as dialogue partners.

On Saturday, President Erdogan said he wants SCO membership for Turkey; it would also be the first NATO country to join the bloc. Turkey has been affiliated with the bloc since 2013, when it signed a partnership agreement. But, getting full membership of the SCO would give Erdogan some leverage against the West and the potential for stronger economic ties as Turkey struggles with an unstable economy.

China’s nuclear deal with Argentina slips again

China Argentina

Last February, China and Argentina made a nuclear deal. State-owned China National Nuclear Corp signed a contract with Argentina promising to build the US$8 billion Atucha III nuclear power plant using Chinese technology while covering 85% of the costs. This deal had been in the making since 2015 but wasn’t fully realized until this year. Back in April, though, Argentina began pushing China to fully cover the entire project since the country was looking to bring down its debt as a part of a deal with the IMF. Still, the aim was to have a viable deal by the end of this year.

But, it’s been held up once again. This time, the obstacle is Argentina’s demand that its engineers manufacture the reactor fuel right there in Argentina. If China gives in, that will make Argentina the first nation licensed to make fuel for China’s Hualong One reactor, giving their atomic program a step up. This would also show that China is willing to license technology to foreign trading partners, which would help it sell more reactors overseas.

Meta isn’t doing great

Meta logo is seen in this illustration taken, August 22, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

In the not-so-distant past, Facebook (now Meta) was among the biggest Silicon Valley giants in existence. Two years ago, its CEO Mark Zuckerberg was the third-richest person on Earth, behind only Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates.

But, all that money is tied up in more than 350 million Facebook stock shares, which has been on the downhill slope since Zuck announced the Meta rebranding and its shift into the metaverse. Back in February, the company also had an earnings report that noted no growth in monthly Facebook users, which caused the company’s stock price to tumble 57% since the start of the year. So far this year, Zuck’s lost about US$71 billion – more than half of his pile of money.

And if you’re thinking that every other company in Silicon Valley has had it hard too, you’re right, and you’re wrong. Of the FAANG group (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google), there have been serious losses. Amazon is down about 26%, and Google is down about 29%. The only one doing worse than Facebook is Netflix, and Meta is even catching up there.

To end, we’ll look into:

Your science teacher lied to you about dinos; here’s how they actually died

At some point, probably in a primary school science class, you likely learned that the Earth used to be filled to the brim with dinosaurs of all kinds until about 66 million years ago when a meteor hit the Yucatán Peninsula (modern-day Mexico) and wiped them all out. Well, scientists in China are saying that’s not exactly how it happened.

To be clear, they’re not denying a meteor hit Earth or that it ended the era of dinos as we think of them now. But they’re saying that there was a decreasing amount of biodiversity (or, essentially, the amount of types of living things out there) in the world leading up to the strike.

They found this out by looking at eggshells in a 150-meter-thick section of rock in the Earth, and they noticed that, of the 1000 eggshells they had, only three different species were represented. Their theory is that the mix of changing climate over the long term and some volcanic eruptions in India meant that only a select group of dino species survived. And when the asteroid came and hit Mexico, those species were already vulnerable, and they went extinct, too.

“Dinosaurs went extinct gradually over millions of years, instead of coming to an abrupt end from sudden disasters,” said the lead author of the study, Wang Qiang, an associate researcher at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Now, Wang said, the next step is to look at how species of dinosaurs had changed (or failed to change) before disasters like volcano eruptions or meteor strikes.

“Which was the determining factor for dinosaur extinction? Was it changes in their genes that led to the loss of adaptability or was it the environment that became too harsh for them?”

In other news …

📈Stocks: MSCI’s global gauge of stocks is up 0.44% to 2,580.55.

📰Some specifics:

  • S&P 500 rose 0.69% to 3,899.89.
  • Nasdaq Composite is up 0.76% to 11,535.02.
  • Dow Jones is up 0.64% to 31,019.68.
  • Hang Seng Index slipped 1.04% to 18,565.97.

🧠Some quick factors to bear in mind:

  • The US Fed’s two-day policy meeting starts on Tuesday, and they’re expected to raise interest rates by another 75 basis points.
  • Investors are dropping risk assets as they prepare for higher interest rates from the Fed, afraid the hikes will go too far and push the economy into a recession.
  • Later this week, more economic data will be released, including August housing and initial jobless claims. Investors are expecting central banks around the world to increase borrowing costs.
  • Meanwhile, in the East, China’s central bank cut a repo rate by 10 basis points, hoping to aid its economy. And August’s retail sales data and industrial production in China beat expectations. Sales grew 5.4%, beating a Reuters forecast for 3.5% growth.
  • But, amid all this encouraging data, real estate investment for the year declined further as of August, down by 7.4% from the same period last year, meaning China isn’t out of the woods yet in the housing sector.

👄Some comments and chatter:

  • “We’re in a wait-and-see approach and markets are waiting for some kind of bullish or bearish catalyst to send us out of this trading range. The markets are struggling for direction and that’s the fundamental news,” said Adam Sarhan, CEO of 50 Park Investments.
  • “Generally speaking, the national economy withstood the impacts of multiple unexpected factors and sustained the momentum of recovery and growth with major indicators showing positive changes. However, we should be aware that the international environment is still complicated and severe and the foundation of domestic economic recovery is not solid,” China’s National Bureau of Statistics said in a press release.

🛢Oil: Oil prices went up due to concerns about supplies outweighing fears over lowering demand. Brent went up to settle at US$92.00 a barrel, and U.S. crude settled up at US$85.73.

👛Bitcoin: Bitcoin rose 0.50% to US$19,514.20 at the time of writing.

😥Ukraine finds more evidence of torture in Kharkiv: As Ukrainian forces settle back into the reclaimed Kharkiv region, they’ve discovered bodies with evidence of torture. This piles on to the alleged atrocities committed by Russia across Ukraine, which led to international calls to press war crimes charges against Russian authorities back in March.

🚛US Republicans are shipping migrants to other states: US Republican governors have been sending migrants to Democrat-controlled states and cities in protest of Biden’s immigration policies. Last Wednesday, Florida Gov. DeSantis flew migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard. Most recently, Texas Gov. Abbott had busloads of migrants dropped off near Vice President Kamala Harris’s house. Calling it a “cruel, premeditated political stunt," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, “We’re talking about children, we’re talking about families who were promised a home, promised a job, put on a bus and driven to a place that they do not know."

💣Kyrgyz-Tajik border conflict death toll grows: On Sunday, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan said that almost 100 people had died in their latest border conflict. Currently, the two have established a cease-fire, and Russia is urging de-escalation.

🌀Hurricane Fiona wreaks havoc: After causing major power outages and destruction from flooding in Puerto Rico, Hurricane Fiona is now making landfall in the Dominican Republic. It’s still a danger in PR and is expected to head for the Bahamas after it goes through DR.

🙋‍♂️Biden says the US would defend Taiwan: In the event that Taiwan sees an “unprecedented attack," US President Biden vowed military support for the island. Biden has made similar statements in the past while still underscoring that the US stands by its “One China" policy.

🚗Volkswagen targets a major valuation in Porsche IPO: Yesterday, Volkswagen announced it’s seeking a valuation of up to 75 billion euros (US$75.1 billion) for Porsche in what will be Germany’s second-largest IPO in history. It could also be Europe’s third-largest IPO on record, according to Refinitiv data.

🚌China quarantine bus crash: A bus in China transporting people to a COVID quarantine facility crashed on Sunday in the early morning hours, killing 27 and injuring another 20 people. The crash has sparked outcries about the country’s zero-COVID policy.

🎮Grand Theft Auto VI leaks: Someone hacked into the video game studio Rockstar and took unreleased footage from the upcoming game Grand Theft Auto VI. They quickly published it, giving an inside look into one of the most anticipated games in the industry. The videos have been confirmed as authentic. Rockstar, though shocked by the leak, said it wouldn’t impact ongoing game development.

🐪Rameses II-era burial cave found by accident: A sealed cave in Israel was found to be the site of burial offerings dating back to ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Rameses II, who died in 1213 B.C. Construction crews working at Israel’s Palmahim Beach National Park found it when their digging equipment created a hole that led to the room.