From Lula winning Brazil to what to expect from the COP27 climate conference – Here's your November 1 news briefing

From Lula winning Brazil to what to expect from the COP27 climate conference – Here's your November 1 news briefing

From Lula winning Brazil to what to expect from the COP27 climate conference – Here's your November 1 news briefing
Brazil's former President and presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks at an election night gathering on the day of the Brazilian presidential election run-off, in Sao Paulo, Brazil October 30, 2022. REUTERS/Carla Carniel

To start off, we’re looking into:

Lula leads Brazil again

Brazil, the world’s fourth-largest democracy, has been going through a heated election with incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro and left-wing leader Liz Inácio Lula da Silva neck-in-neck. Earlier this month, neither candidate won more than half of the vote, so the country held a runoff election to decide the new leader.

On Sunday, Lula narrowly won the presidency for the third time, with a 50.9% vote compared to 49.1% for his opponent, right-wing Bolsonaro. This is a big comeback for Lula, who was sentenced to 12 years in jail for a corruption scandal three years ago. Global leaders congratulated Lula for his wins, including US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and Latin American leaders. The new government made promises to reunite the country, end hunger, re-industrialize the economy and preserve the Amazon rainforest.

Bolsonaro hasn’t conceded or commented on the results yet.

China’s Foxconn lockdown has workers fleeing

The logo of Foxconn is pictured on top of a company’s building in Taipei, Taiwan October 31, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

The world’s biggest iPhone factory in Zhengzhou, China, with around 200,000 workers, had strict COVID measures put in place about two weeks ago to stem an outbreak from spreading outside the plant. The company didn’t allow employees to leave the campus and required regular testing. The closed-loop operation provoked workers, who complained about poor living conditions. So, many of them broke out.

Over the weekend, social media clips showed workers fleeing the factory on foot with their belongings and walking home on highways to avoid checkpoints imposed by the country’s strict zero-COVID measures.

Now, the company is promising safe passage for workers who choose to leave and a sanitized workspace for those who are staying on. Foxconn is also raising hourly wages by as much as 36% for critical positions to avoid disrupting production ahead of the holidays.

China updates women’s rights law

China women
FILE PHOTO: Two women and their babies pose for photographs in front of the giant portrait of late Chinese chairman Mao Zedong on the Tiananmen Gate in Beijing November 2, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The history of women’s rights in China is long and complex. But gender discrimination issues have kind of snowballed even more recently. China’s gender gap in labor force numbers went from 9.4% in 1990 to 14.1% in 2020. As birth rates in China have been consistently low over the last 15 years, the government has offered perks to expanding families, which often leaves women pressured to return to traditional domestic roles. Unmarried women in their late 20s can also face the social stigma of “sheng nu” or “leftover women.” Most recently, no women were appointed to the Politburo for the first time in 25 years.

On Sunday, according to a statement on its website, China’s Congress passed an amendment to the country’s Women’s Rights and Interests Protection Law.

With this new law, the government says it will take all steps necessary to get rid of discrimination against women. This includes prosecuting employers for violating women’s labor and social security rights and interests and preventing discrimination due to marriage, pregnancy, maternity leave, etc.

To end, we’ll look into:

What’s the scoop on COP27?

FILE PHOTO: View of a COP27 sign on the road leading to the conference area in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh town as the city prepares to host the COP27 summit next month, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt October 20, 2022. REUTERS/Sayed Sheasha/File Photo

The world is on track for a 2.8 Celsius rise in global temperatures, and the UN is currently trying to bring the world together to cooperate on climate action. Its main initiative is COP meetings, which stands for Conference of the Parties. Last year, at COP26 in Glasgow, many nations made promises to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and ease up on fossil fuel dependence. But the UN is now accusing them of wasting a year by not delivering on those pledges.

This week, COP27 starts in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Will we see any major shifts in global policy?

COP27 comes during a strange sociopolitical moment. The world is teetering on the edge of economic recession and dealing with ballooning inflation. Plus, there’s an entire war going on between Ukraine and Russia. And relations between China and the US have become more and more tense recently, which doesn’t exactly pave the way for climate collaboration.

All of the almost 200 countries attending COP27 promised to submit new or updated climate action plans, but only 24 did. Some countries will be releasing their plans at the conference, such as Chile, Mexico and Turkey. But, when it comes to major developing economies like China, we’re not sure if and when we’ll see new plans. Li Shuo, a China climate expert at environmental group Greenpeace, weighed in, saying, “The chance for China to make another major move ahead of COP27 is low.”

For COP27, Egypt selected “loss and damage” as the main focus, exploring reparations for losses and damages caused by climate-related disasters. Developing countries are pushing for a Loss and Damage fund to be created. This is the first time this controversial topic will be on the UN’s formal agenda.

Unfortunately, eco-celeb Greta Thunberg won’t be going to COP27. “The COPs are mainly used as an opportunity for leaders and people in power to get attention, using many different kinds of greenwashing,” she said. She adds that these conferences “are not really meant to change the whole system … The COPs are not really working, unless of course we use them as an opportunity to mobilize.”

In other news …

📉Stocks: MSCI’s global gauge of stocks is down 0.52% at 2547.72, at the time of writing.

📰Some specifics:

  • Dow Jones is down 0.39% to ​​32,732.95.
  • Nasdaq Composite is down 1.03% to 10,988.15.
  • S&P 500 is down 0.75% to 3,871.98.
  • Hang Seng Index slipped 1.18% to 14,687.02.

🧠Some quick factors to bear in mind:

  • In the US, stocks retreated from a monthly surge, and US Treasury yields edged up. The global stock index fell, and the dollar advanced against the euro as investors braced themselves for the Fed to stick with its aggressive approach to hiking interest rates to control inflation.
  • The Fed is expected to deliver a 75-basis-point rate hike during its two-day meeting starting Tuesday. Investors will be paying close attention to the central bank’s outlook.
  • Investors are also keeping an eye on more economic data being released on Tuesday, including the US job openings report and the ISM manufacturing report for October.
  • The Hang Seng Index slipped two months in a row in October, dropping 14.7%, the worst monthly performance since the 2008 financial crisis. Hong Kong’s economy also recorded the worst contraction since the second quarter of 2020, with a GDP drop of 4.5% in 3Q, reflecting the pressure from slowing global demand, rising interest rates and China’s zero-COVID stance.

👄Some comments and chatter:

  • “This week will be loaded with scary stuff, from the Fed meeting and press conference to employment data on Friday. Market expectations are for the Fed to begin signaling that their very aggressive rate hiking cycle will begin slowing down,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Investment Management.
  • “The purchasing managers’ index (PMI) data contracting adds to the post-China congress party blues for oil markets. It is not difficult to draw a straight line from weaker PMIs to China’s COVID-zero policy,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner of SPI Asset Management.
  • “It’s almost a done deal that Hong Kong will be in a recession this year … It’s actually quite surprising because in the first quarter, everything was closed down and the pressures came from the consumption side. This time around, the worry is that the pressure is from everywhere,” said Gary Ng, an economist at Natixis SA.

🛢Oil: Oil prices dropped on expectations that US production could rise, China COVID curbs and weak Chinese economic data. US crude was down 1.6% to US$86.53, and Brent dropped 0.98% to US$94.83 per barrel.

👛Bitcoin: Bitcoin was down 0.74% to US$20,479.70 at the time of writing.

🚿Massive Russian missile strikes: Ukraine said its power and water supply are badly damaged after Russia sent over 50 missiles to hit critical facilities. In Kyiv, 80% of residents don’t have water, and about 350,000 homes are without electricity.

🌀Death toll rises in the Philippines: More than 100 people have died due to Tropical Storm Nalgae in the Philippines, and dozens more are missing after villagers were buried in a mudslide. Almost two million people have been swamped by floods in different areas of the country.

💭EU terrorism label: Germany and the EU are considering classifying Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization. This move comes after the head of the Revolutionary Guards warned protesters that the demonstrations had to end this past Saturday; security forces may intensify their countermeasures, which were already violent.

📄Iranian journalists jailed: The two female Iranian journalists who basically broke the story of Mahsa Amini’s death in the custody of the morality police were formally accused of being CIA spies and the “primary sources of news for foreign media.” The first is a crime punishable by death, and both are pleading innocence. Hundreds of Iranian journalists are calling for the release of the two – Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi.

🐭Shanghai Disney lockdown: On Monday, Shanghai’s Disney Resort suddenly closed to comply with new COVID prevention measures in the area. All the visitors are locked inside until they return a negative test for the virus. The rides are still running, though, so at least there’s that. The mouse has spoken.

🤑Google buys AI startup: Google recently acquired an AI startup working on a new way to create avatars for social media. They paid roughly US$100 million to buy the company called “Alter.” Google made this deal to leverage some competition against TikTok.

🐤More Twitter changes: Elon Musk has confirmed Twitter is revamping its verification process. Rumor has it that users will have to subscribe to Twitter Blue at US$4.99 a month or lose their little blue check if the new changes are approved. Also, The Verge reported Twitter is increasing the Blue subscription price to US$19.99 a month.

📴Instagram hiccups: So a bug caused a bunch of IG accounts to be suspended, and many users reported losing followers during a four-hour outage today. It’s finally back online, and Instagram is looking into what happened.

🚄World record train: Celebrating the 175th anniversary of Switzerland’s first railway, the Swiss rail industry decided to run the world’s longest-ever passenger train. It was 100 cars, 2,990 tons and almost two kilometers long. This record-breaking 1,906-meter train took almost an hour to move 25 kilometers along the UNESCO World Heritage Albula Line from Preda to Alvaneu.

🎨Upside-down art: A painting by renowned abstract artist Piet Mondrian has actually been hanging upside down in museums since it was first put on display 75 years ago. An art historian discovered this but also warned that the painting could be damaged if it’s suddenly hung the other way around. Art is all up for interpretation anyway, right?

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