From Xi Jinping clenching a third term to one gigantic fish – Here’s your October 24 news briefing

From Xi Jinping clenching a third term to one gigantic fish – Here’s your October 24 news briefing
New Politburo Standing Committee members Xi Jinping, Li Qiang, Zhao Leji, Wang Huning, Cai Qi, Ding Xuexiang and Li Xi meet the media following the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China October 23, 2022. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

To start off, we’re looking into:

Xi Jinping’s new dream team

A day after the weeklong, twice-a-decade 20th CCP Congress ended, President Xi introduced the government’s new dream team at a press conference. The new Politburo Standing Committee, which is basically a presidential cabinet at the top of government, includes Xi and six of his associates.

As expected, Xi also entered a historic third term as general secretary of the CCP Central Committee. The two-term limit for president was removed in 2018, but there is no limit to the general secretary position, arguably the most powerful in China’s government. Now, Xi is arguably the most powerful leader in China after Mao Zedong. Also, without any opposition to Xi in the party, he will most likely secure another term as president in March 2023.

So who will be ruling China in the next five years? The seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee are Xi Jinping, Li Qiang, Zhao Leji, Wang Huning, Cai Qi, Ding Xuexiang and Li Xi.

Italy’s new prime minister Giorgia Meloni

Italy Meloni
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni attends the first new cabinet meeting, at Chigi Palace, in Rome, Italy, October 23, 2022. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

Italy, the third-largest economy in the EU, gave the largest vote share to the right-wing Brothers of Italy party leader, Giorgia Meloni, in its September 25 election. Since then, the world has been paying attention to how she will lead the most far-right government since the fascist era of Benito Mussolini. The new government faces a series of challenges, including the threat of recession, soaring energy prices and the Russia-Ukraine war.

On Saturday, Meloni was sworn in at Italy’s presidential palace. She is Italy’s youngest and first female prime minister, and this marks the first time a far-right government has come to power in the country since World War II. But Meloni is already dealing with doubts about her leadership from fresh drama surrounding her right-wing coalition ally, former leader Silvio Berlusconi, who apparently has close ties with Russian President Putin.

India launches 36 satellites into space

India space
Source: Indian Space Research Organisation

One of the world’s major communications companies, OneWeb, is working on creating a “satellite constellation” of 648 satellites for global broadband coverage. The company has gotten 426 of these satellites into orbit already. But, it sent those satellites into space using Russian-made Soyuz rockets run by the French company Arianespace. Last March, though, OneWeb broke up with the Russian space agency after the invasion of Ukraine.

But on Sunday, OneWeb began making up for lost time. From India, it launched a rocket carrying 36 internet satellites. This launch required using India’s heaviest rocket, which is usually used for government projects. This is OneWeb’s first launch since separating itself from Russia. Now, the company has more than 70% completed of its 648-satellite goal, which will allow it to provide broadband service all over the world. Even with the Russia debacle, OneWeb is on track to activate its constellation by next year.

To end, we’ll look into:

Who are the young men fleeing Russia’s mobilization?

Russian citizens visit a public service centre to receive an individual identification number for foreigners in the city of Almaty, Kazakhstan, October 3, 2022. REUTERS/Pavel Mikheyev

As Russia’s war with Ukraine continues, many different groups of people have been displaced by the violence – including some Russians. Not every Russian is in favor of Putin’s decision to move in on Ukraine. While there are people who support the war, many Russian citizens aren’t so sure. Even members of Russia’s political elite have begun to voice doubts as Russia’s performance in the war has kind of nosedived.

And one major group that’s shown reluctance toward the war is Russia’s young men. In September, Putin announced plans to send 300,000 more men to war through a drafting process. After the announcement, demonstrations all over Russia broke out, leading to the arrests of over 2,000 people. And tens of thousands scrambled to escape conscription by getting out of the country ASAP. “Many people I know upended their lives and left the country within a day of Putin announcing mobilization,” said a 23-year-old Russian named Roman.

“I left Russia because I lost all hope,” said 44-year-old Sergei. Many headed for neighboring Kazakhstan, and some headed as far as South Korea. Two even ended up in Alaska after crossing the Bering Sea by boat, landing on a remote Alaskan island where they appealed for asylum. In South Korea, most of the young men who’ve arrived have been denied entry.

As these young men tell their stories, it becomes clear that many are homesick, longing to return to Russia. But, at the same time, they don’t want to fight – whether for fear for their lives, because they don’t support the war or both. Roman P. says after the mobilization was announced, “I considered my options: die in Putin’s war refusing to fight or die in prison. I don’t want to kill anyone for no reason, especially not for Putin.”

Even though many long for home, they may not be welcome back when the war is over. According to psychologist Nikita Rakhimov, who created a site to connect Russians avoiding conscription, many who’ve left are branded “traitors for Russia” by friends and family. Plus, there’s no telling how Putin’s government will respond to deserters that return. “I feel very sad, because, actually, I love Russia,” a 25-year-old told NBC News in Kazakhstan.

In other news …

💻Iran atomic energy organization hacked: Yesterday, Iran’s atomic energy organization claimed an email server owned by one of its offshoot orgs was hacked from a foreign country, leading to some private info published online. An Iranian hacking group known as Black Reward tweeted that it released the hacked info to support the ongoing protests in Iran.

💰Saudi Arabia’s US$10 billion bid: Saudi Arabia’s crown prince MBS has launched a project to attract investments in supply chains to and from the country, hoping to get an initial 40 billion riyals (US$10.64 billion). For this initiative, about 10 billion riyals would go toward investor incentives. The kingdom is aiming to become a transport and logistics hub by the end of the decade.

No mo’ BoJo: Despite rumors that former UK PM Boris Johnson would be bidding for his place as head of state once again, it looks like he no longer wants to be considered for the position. He’s stepping out of the way in favor of searching for someone who would better unite the ruling conservative party. This leaves Rishi Sunak, who’s said his main priority is “fixing the economy,” as the frontrunner.

👩‍💻Nasdaq halts some Chinese IPOs: Nasdaq is stopping the IPO preparations of at least four small Chinese companies as it looks into their unusual stock rallies after debuting. Recently, there’s been an uptick in Chinese companies raising small amounts, usually less than US$50 million, in their IPOs. Their stocks then rise up to 2,000% only to nosedive shortly after.

🙋‍♀️Apple’s industrial design chief is out: Apple’s head of hardware design, Evans Hankey, is leaving after three years on the job, leaving a leadership hole at the top, as no one’s quite sure who will replace her. She was pegged for the job in 2019 to replace Jony Ive after two decades in the role.

Musk to cut almost 75% of Twitter staff: When (if) Elon Musk finally takes over Twitter, he wants to cut its workforce by about 75%. He plans to reduce Twitter’s staff from 7,500 to 2,000, which totally tops analysts’ expectations. Musk is expected to close the US$44 billion acquisition by October 28.

👗Balenciaga breaks up with Ye: French label Balenciaga has stopped working with rapper and designer Kanye West, who goes by Ye. Recently, West has posted antisemitic messages on Twitter, and a lot of his corporate deals have been going south. The original deal was supposed to go through 2030.

🌠Mark Hamill’s campaign for Ukraine drones: “Star Wars” hero Luke Skywalker himself has been working to support Ukraine during wartime. Serving as a fundraising ambassador for Ukraine’s “Army of Drones” project upon President Zelenskiy’s request last month, actor Mark Hamill has been able to fundraise enough for 500 drones for the country so far.

🐟Big fish: A team of scientists in Portugal have discovered the heaviest bony fish in the world in the Atlantic Ocean. The giant sunfish weighing more than three tons was found dead in the water by a fisherman last December. The Atlantic Naturalist Association, a Portuguese ocean conservation organization, helped bring it back to land.

Written and put together by Joey Fung, Vanessa Wolosz, Christine Dulion and Krystal Lai