To start off, we’re looking into:
Korea’s missile face-off
Things are heating up between North and South Korea, with the US and Japan also getting involved. Over the past couple of months, South Korea and the US launched a series of joint military exercises to deter North Korea. But North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has interpreted them as a preparation for war, and the country began firing its own missiles in what it calls a “just counteraction.” One of these missiles was nuclear-capable and went over Japan, leading Japan and the US to carry out drills in response.
On Thursday, South Korean, American and Japanese destroyers practiced drills off the east coast to test their abilities to search, track and intercept ballistic missiles. This was after North Korea launched more missiles close to the South to protest the return of a US aircraft carrier off the coast. Then, a bombing drill by at least eight North Korean fighter jets and four bombers led to South Korea scrambling 30 military planes in response.
Hong Kong developers threaten its bird habitat
Hong Kong’s wetlands, which provide foraging and roosting grounds for hundreds of bird species, have been a hot topic lately. Recently, it came to light that the government may re-zone the conservation and buffer areas there. The buffer area is a border surrounding the reserve that the government created over 20 years ago to prevent development that could harm the wetlands. But, with Hong Kong’s ongoing housing problem, developers are looking to build in this zone.
Right now, eight different development proposals are requesting higher density than they’re supposed to. If approved, these would be the highest density and height projects in the buffer zone. But conservation groups have raised the alarm, saying that taller buildings would interrupt bird flight paths and contribute to climate change issues.
Thailand massacre leaves 37 dead
On Thursday, a former police officer killed at least 37 people at a preschool center in Na Klang district in Thailand. Twenty-two of the victims were children. Officers say most of the children killed were stabbed to death, and the man shot other victims. After fleeing the scene, the man killed his family and then himself.
Thailand doesn’t have many mass shootings, but a couple of years ago, there was another particularly horrifying incident where a soldier killed 29 people after opening fire at a shopping mall. Thailand has somewhat strict gun laws, but it also doesn’t have the best enforcement.
The motive in this incident isn’t clear, though the killer has a history of using methamphetamines and had been in court earlier that day for that reason. Along with Thailand, Myanmar and Laos form a region well-known for drug trafficking problems. Again, though, it isn’t clear yet if the assailant was on drugs at the time.
To end, we’ll look into:
The underground abortion networks around the world
Back in June, the US Supreme Court came out with a decision that said, in so many words, that people in the US didn’t have the right to an abortion. This didn’t make it illegal to get an abortion, but it sent it back to states to make their own decisions. Some states (like Texas and Florida) have really restrictive abortion bans making it difficult or near impossible to get an abortion safely.
So in place of abortion providers, abortion care networks are starting to pop up in some places. These networks are often international and help people access abortion medicine from other countries. In the US, a lot of this comes from Mexico, where its Supreme Court effectively decriminalized abortion in 2021. But much of this is operating in a kind of gray space legally.
This isn’t just an issue in the US, though; in Europe, laws covering abortions differ a lot between countries. In Spain, for example, abortions past 14 weeks are extremely restricted, so people who need one past that point often have to go somewhere else, like the Netherlands. Poland, in particular, has cracked down on access to abortion, and lots of the people arriving in the Netherlands in recent years are from there.
In Europe, these networks can be a little more formalized, and one of the big ones is called Abortion Without Borders (AWB). The idea is pretty simple –get people who need abortions to somewhere they can get one. In the Netherlands, at least, there’s a community of people waiting, hosting bed and breakfast locations for people there to get abortion care.
As abortion restrictions are becoming more stringent in some places, the big picture seems to be that other places are willing to step in to help. Of course, not all of the help is official, and some of it works in legal gray spaces, but all of it exists to help people access medical care unavailable where they live.
In other news …
📉Stocks: MSCI’s global gauge of stocks dipped 0.87% to 2478.42.
- S&P 500 dropped 1.02% to 3,744.52.
- Nasdaq Composite is down 0.68% at 11,073.31.
- Dow Jones fell 1.15% to 29,926.94.
- Hang Seng Index slipped 0.42% to 18,012.15.
🧠Some quick factors to bear in mind:
- Stocks dropped, and Treasury yields spiked as the US Fed seems less and less likely to back away from their stance of interest rate hikes ahead of Friday’s monthly US jobs report. This Friday’s Labor Department report will show investors whether all the rate hiking has had an effect on the economy and record-high inflation.
- But, on Thursday, data showed that jobless claims were higher than expected, meaning there may be a weak spot in the labor market.
- Making things more complicated is the anticipation of next week’s data on US consumer inflation. Although experts expect it to have slowed for the third month, it would still be at its highest level since the mid-80s.
- Meanwhile, Hong Kong stocks ended a bit lower Thursday after a jump in the previous session, which has been categorized as “normal" after a strong bounce on Wednesday.
- Chinese markets are still closed for the weeklong holiday.
👄Some comments and chatter:
- “The job market is still solid but is softening," said Bill Adams, chief economist for Comerica Bank. “As the unemployment rate ticks higher, wage growth will likely slow, taming some of the inflationary pressure in the U.S. economy."
- “Once again, investors are looking for bad news to be good news,” Chris Senyek of Wolfe Research wrote in a Thursday note. “While stocks are currently prone to big upside rips, we strongly believe that our intermediate-term bearish base case remains intact.”
🛢Oil: OPEC+ recently announce a major cut in production, which continued to drive higher prices for the fourth day in a row. Brent crude futures settled 1.1% higher at US$94.42 a barrel, and US crude closed up 0.8% at US$88.45 a barrel.
👛Bitcoin: Bitcoin fell 1.22% to US$19,915.30 at time of writing.
⚠WHO alert over India-made cough syrups: The WHO just issued a global alert over four cough syrups made in India. These could be linked to the deaths of 66 children in The Gambia.
🌎Climate crisis affects summer drought likelihood: According to a new report, climate change made the freak drought across the northern hemisphere this year at least 20 times more likely. According to scientists, this sort of event would have been expected only once every 400 years (without human influence).
🚌Xinjiang hit with travel restrictions: The Xinjiang region of western China is experiencing sweeping COVID travel restrictions. Buses and trains in and out of the region (with 22 million residents) have been suspended and passenger flights are down to 75% capacity. The government is ramping up measures all over China ahead of the Communist Party congress happening later this month.
🚢Russian superyacht docked in Hong Kong: A US$500 million superyacht belonging to sanctioned Russian tycoon Alexey Mordashov just randomly ended up docked at a Hong Kong port this week. Apparently, Mordashov’s spokesperson said he’s still in Moscow but declined to explain what his yacht is doing in Hong Kong.
✊Swedish MEP cuts hair on stage to support Iran protests: Iraqi-born Swedish member of the European Parliament, Abir Al-Sahlani, made a strong message of solidarity with Iranian protesters. During a speech on stage, she took a pair of scissors, said “Jin, Jiyan, Azadi" (“Woman, Life, Freedom") and then cut off her ponytail.
❌Censorship bypass tools see new blockade: As China’s Communist Party congress nears, the government is cracking down on censorship evasion tools. Government censors have figured out how to break down transport layer security VPNs used to get around the Great Firewall.
🕊Tigray rebels and Ethiopia accept peace talks invitation: The African Union has set up negotiation talks in South Africa with the goal of ending a two-year conflict between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray rebels. They’ve both accepted the invitation and will be attending this coming weekend..
🙌Groundbreaking wins in Brazil election: This week’s Brazilian election saw exciting developments for the country’s congress. The left is celebrating as the first trans candidates – Erika Hilton and Duda Salabert – were elected to office. Two Indigenous candidates – Sônia Guajajarand and Célia Xakriabá – were also elected as lawmakers.
🤷♀️More Musk drama? Why not?: In yet another twist in the Musk-Twitter tale, Elon Musk is now saying that his offer to buy the platform depends on receiving US$13 billion in debt financing. He’s also seeking to hold on to his right to sue Twitter for fraud over the whole spam and bot accounts thing. Now, a judge has paused the suit against Musk and given the two parties until October 28 to close the deal.
📃Czech parody petition on annexing Kaliningrad from Russia goes viral: After Russia’s sham annexation of Ukrainian territory, the Czech Republic has retaliated with humor. It launched a satirical petition to divide and annex the Russian Kaliningrad region, which has been signed by 13,000 people so far. This petition claims Russia must return Kaliningrad to the Czech Republic, using the same logic that Russia is using in its Ukrainian annexation.