From the return of Hong Kong Sevens to bumblebee recreation – Here's your November 7 news briefing

To start off, we're looking into: Hong Kong Sevens is back! With the recent global banking summit, it's clear that Hong Kong is looking toward reopening and trying to reverse the setback brought by isolation under COVID restrictions.

From the return of Hong Kong Sevens to bumblebee recreation – Here's your November 7 news briefing
Hong Kong Sevens 2019/GovHK

To start off, we're looking into:

Hong Kong Sevens is back!

COVID restrictions have been firmly in place over the past three years in Hong Kong. But with the situation increasingly stable, the city has been pushing for a reopening and a stronger presence on the global stage, reversing the setback brought on by COVID rules. For example, Hong Kong recently hosted a global banking summit coupled with FinTech Week. And this weekend, Hong Kong Sevens was officially back.

But there were still some COVID regulations to deal with. For example, Hong Kong stadium was capped at about 34,000 – 85% of its capacity; players had to stay in quarantine bubbles; attendants were required to wear face masks when not eating or drinking and show negative rapid test results before entering the sports event. Also, this year, there were only 16 teams competing rather than the usual 24 teams, and the women's tournament was canceled.

Germany’s Chancellor and top execs meet with China's Xi

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz meets Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, China November 4, 2022. Kay Nietfeld/Pool via REUTERS

Last week, Germany approved China's state-owned shipping giant Cosco to buy a 24.9% stake in the Hamburg port. After the deal, German and European officials were worried about Berlin's increasingly close ties with China. On Friday, despite criticism and objections from many of Germany's allies, politicians and even his own coalition, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz went on a controversial trip to Beijing as planned. Scholz and some top German CEOs, including Deutsche Bank, Volkswagen, BMW and BioNTech, met with China's President Xi Jinping to discuss a range of issues. The meeting signals Germany's effort to stabilize supply chains and strengthen its business relationship with China.

Scholz is the first G7 leader to visit China since the pandemic started. At the meeting, Xi called on the world to oppose the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine and spoke on the need to stabilize the energy and food supply chain with Germany. This is the most direct comment Xi has made on the Russian-Ukraine war.

India is making waves at COP27

School girls walk towards a school as they reopened after remaining closed for nearly 15 days due to a spike in air pollution, on a smoggy morning in New Delhi, India, November 29, 2021. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis/File Photo

In New Delhi – the capital of India – farmers have been burning crop stubble, and the winter winds are super calm, causing smog to smother the city. Burning crops is actually illegal in India, but lots of people do it anyway because its cheaper than transporting it for disposal. On Friday, schools and businesses shut down because of the air pollution. This is a real blow to the country because India has been ramping up its renewable energy goals – especially with solar – and speeding up renewable energy initiatives.

Now, at the COP27 environmental conference in Egypt, India is making waves. Its delegation is calling out rich, developed countries to finally get on with their decade-old promise to provide US$100 billion in climate finance to developing nations every year. These countries include the US, UK, France and Germany. Not only that, but India is also saying that promised US$100 billion needs to be boosted with the times to keep up with current climate goals.

To end, we'll look into:

The hype of meme coins

We all know that the crypto world has become a bit of a gamble these days. Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency forerunner, reached an all-time high just last year. In November 2021, Bitcoin was worth more than US$55,000. But today, it's worth just over US$21,000.

But, back when crypto was still blowing up, meme coins also became a thing. A meme coin is a form of altcoin (any crypto that isn't Bitcoin) that's meant to be spread and circulated as another form of a viral meme.

Let's talk about the biggest meme coin there is – Dogecoin.

The "doge" meme itself emerged in 2013, with images of a Shiba Inu dog with an inner monologue full of bad grammar. That same year, software engineers Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer created a new cryptocurrency called "Dogecoin." The entire idea behind it was actually a joke that satirized the wild speculation of other cryptocurrencies. They meant for it to be worthless. Valued initially at US$0.00026 per coin, Dogecoin is sitting pretty at US$0.12 today.

But meme coins really didn't take off until 2021, when celebrities like Elon Musk and Mark Cuban promoted Dogecoin. In fact, it looks like Musk's moves are constantly affecting the price of Dogecoin. The coin is currently rallying, with Musk's Twitter takeover triggering gains. Right now, Dogecoin is in the eighth-largest crypto market position.

With meme coins being so cheap, they can be really attractive to younger retail investors. They're community-driven, with the trade mechanics relying on social media and internet culture. There's just no real economic use for them at a surface level apart from trading. They're so volatile that, yeah, you could become rich off of them. Or you could also lose all of your money.

Markus himself has said, "It's one of the most volatile assets you can make a bet on, but people right now have a lot of reasons to make that bet, and that is being reflected in the market."

Back in 2021, Thailand's SEC banned meme coins during a crackdown on digital goods with "no clear objective or substance."

In other news ...

✈Tanzanian plane crash: A Tanzanian passenger plane crashed into Lake Victoria while trying to land in the town of Bukoba. There were 43 people on board, and at least 19 people died. There are 24 definite survivors, but authorities are unsure if the two pilots are still alive.

🤝Iran-Russia drone deal: Iran publicly acknowledged for the first time that it did provide military drones to Russia. But the foreign minister is saying that only a few were delivered in the months before the Ukraine invasion. Ukraine President Zelenskiy claims that's a lie and the country is downplaying its involvement.

🚤Migrant rescue ship in limbo: A migrant rescue ship called Humanity 1 will not leave an Italian port after authorities prevented 35 migrant men from getting off and stepping onto Italian soil. Children and those with medical issues were allowed off in Sicily after it spent two weeks trying to get port access. Two other rescue boats are still at sea.

🧕A new wave of protests in Iran: Iranian students protested, and shopkeepers went on strike even with a more intense government crackdown. US President Biden has now pledged to "free Iran," though it's unclear what will happen from here.

💪Japan is strengthening its military: On Sunday, Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Japan needs to strengthen its military with everything that's going on in the East and South China seas, threats from North Korea getting more frequent and Russia's war on Ukraine. Within the next five years, Kishida wants to build more warships, strengthen anti-missile measures and improve working conditions for troops.

📢Protests during Pope's visit: Relatives of death row and life inmates in the Middle Eastern country of Bahrain held a small protest along Pope Francis's motorcade route, calling attention to political prisoners and trying to rally for their freedom. It's not clear if the Pope saw the protesters' signs as he was transported to a school in Isa Town.

🚀China's rocket booster falls to Earth: On Friday morning, debris from a 23-ton Chinese rocket stage crashed back to Earth, landing in the Pacific Ocean. This is the fourth time China has had a deliberately uncontrolled atmospheric re-entry. The rocket didn't have a guiding system to bring it to a specific spot on Earth guaranteed to be far away from people.

🐤Twitter staff sues: Elon Musk is in hot water – again – over a class-action lawsuit against Twitter. The company's employees are suing because they say they aren't being given enough notice before being laid off.

👑A century of King Tut: 100 years after the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb, a small team of archaeologists continues to make ancient Egyptian discoveries. In the same area where they found King Tut, they've unearthed a stash of ancient coffins and mummies, along with ceramic amulets and papyrus documents. This same site contained many other artifacts relating to another pharaoh, King Teti, and his followers.

🐝Buzzin’ around: A recent study suggests that bumblebees like to play with toys when given a chance. Researchers from Queen Mary University of London conducted an experiment where over 18 days, scientists watched bees go out of their way "to roll wooden balls repeatedly, despite no apparent incentive to do so." So, insects may also interact with inanimate objects as a form of play, and younger bees seemed more interested in play than adult bees.

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