From Tom Ford becoming a billionaire to our obsession with true crime – Here's your November 18 news briefing

To start off, we're looking into: Tom Ford is in the billionaire’s club –Tom Ford is a high-end luxury fashion and beauty giant with a super successful brand known especially for fragrance and eyewear.

From Tom Ford becoming a billionaire to our obsession with true crime – Here's your November 18 news briefing
Photo by SGP Italia srl/WireImage

To start off, we're looking into:

Tom Ford is in the billionaire’s club

Tom Ford is a high-end luxury fashion and beauty giant with a super successful brand known especially for fragrance and eyewear. Tom Ford is not only a fashion designer, creative director, author and filmmaker – but he’s about to become a billionaire with a net worth of over US$2 billion.

On Tuesday, Estée Lauder announced it would buy Tom Ford Brands for a valuation of US$2.8 billion. This means Estée Lauder, which owns other high-end names such as La Mer and Clinique, will own the licensing agreement it’s had with Ford for about two decades and avoid having to renegotiate the deal in 2030. Tom Ford is a significant source of revenue for the brand – execs said the current licensing brings in nearly US$1 billion each year. After the acquisition, Ford will stay on as a ‘creative visionary” through the end of 2023.

A crypto crisis is spreading

Representations of cryptocurrencies plunge into water in this illustration taken, May 23, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

A crypto crisis was sparked by the collapse of the second-largest cryptocurrency exchange platform, FTX, which went bankrupt last week. Now, troubled crypto firms are starting to be rattled because FTX was like a central bank of the crypto world.

The cryptocurrency lender BlockFi, once worth US$3 billion, said last week that it would stop withdrawals. Now, insiders say the company is preparing to file for bankruptcy within days. Genesis' lending unit also suspended redemptions and is seeking an emergency loan for US$1 billion. Several other crypto hedge funds are revealing that much of their capital is stuck in FTX.

In the wake of FTX's collapse, billionaire twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, founders of the Gemini crypto exchange, are also being dragged into the mess with their lending product Gemini Earn.

The APEC forum kicks off

Delegates walk inside the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center where the APEC summit will be held, in Bangkok, Thailand, November 14, 2022. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

The Asia-Pacific region has seen a lot of rising tensions lately, with friction between the US and China causing concern. The US has been strengthening its involvement with allies there, like South Korea and Japan, as China gains more economic and military influence in the area.

This week, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings kicked off in Bangkok, Thailand. And on Thursday, officials from 21 APAC economies gathered for their first in-person summit in four years. Like with G20 and COP27, there will be a lot of talk about climate change, the war in Ukraine and global inflation. We can also expect discussion on trade, the supply chain, vaccines, increasing international travel, economic reform and supporting indigenous economy.

To end, we'll look into:

Is true crime ethical?

Source: Netflix

True crime has seen a real boom in popularity lately. There are so many true crime TV shows, documentaries, movies, podcasts, books…

But is society’s true crime obsession a good thing?

In September, Netflix released a new re-telling of the life of Jeffrey Dahmer, an infamous American serial killer who committed unspeakable crimes – including cannibalism. There were a lot of controversies attached to this project. “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” was created by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan. Evan Peters stars as Dahmer, and the series became an instant hit for the streaming service. But, it received backlash almost as soon as it came out.

Dahmer’s victims’ families say the creators never contacted them about the show beforehand. The sister of one of the murder victims, Rita Isbell, said: “I was never contacted about the show. I feel like Netflix should’ve asked if we mind or how we felt about making it. They didn’t ask me anything. They just did it. But I’m not money hungry, and that’s what this show is about, Netflix trying to get paid.”

This is one example of how controversial true crime can be when it’s sensationalized and sold to an audience.

The exploitation of victims and their families is a huge problem. And using their stories for true crime entertainment can even retraumatize them. Because facts aren’t really something you can copyright, the people affected by a crime don’t always have a right to the money made from their stories.

It can also affect how we think about the world of actual crime. For instance, the genre often promotes a view of crime that disadvantages Black people. It can twist how we think of where crime happens and who the victims are. “Black women, for example, are majorly missing from crime shows as victims of violent crime. And [whose story is and isn’t told] does matter, because it’s a direct depiction of whose lives are valued,” explained Kristen Marston, the director of culture and entertainment advocacy at a racial justice organization called Color of Change.

“What happened to me is not ‘a story,’” said attempted murder survivor and victims advocate Patricia Wenskunas. “It’s my life.”

In other news ...

📉Stocks: MSCI’s global gauge of stocks is down 0.57% at 2642.34 at the time of writing.

📰Some specifics:

  • Dow Jones is down 0.02% to 33,546.32
  • Nasdaq Composite dipped 0.35% to 11,144.96.
  • S&P 500 fell 0.31% to 3,946.56.
  • Hang Seng Index sank 1.15% to 18,045.66.

🧠Some quick factors to bear in mind:

  • In the US, stocks closed lower on Thursday after hawkish remarks from Fed officials signaled hikes will roll on. US jobless claims data fell below the forecast, showing a still-tight labor market. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said on Thursday that "the policy rate is not yet in a zone that may be considered sufficiently restrictive," and policymakers should increase interest rates to at least 5% to 5.25% to curb inflation.
  • In Hong Kong, stocks fell for a second day when Chinese tech stocks dropped sharply after the world's largest video game company Tencent announced it would give away US$20.3 billion of its stake in the food delivery firm Meituan as dividends.
  • Also, Tencent's earnings showed sales fell for a second quarter, with revenue falling by 2% to 140 billion yuan (US$19.8 billion), less than the average analyst forecast of 141.6 billion yuan. This suggests weakness in the broader tech sector, while China's second-biggest gaming company NetEase crashed 9%.

👄Some comments and chatter:

  • “The [Meituan] divestment is a signal that Tencent is downsizing its business, either because of the antitrust law or the weakness in the internet sector. Tencent will focus on the fintech and online game operations and that will cut off some revenue sources,” said Wang Chen, a partner at Xufunds Investment Management in Shanghai.
  • “I’m looking at a labor market that is so tight, I don’t know how you continue to bring this level of inflation down without having some real slowing, and maybe we even have contraction in the economy to get there,” said Kansas City Fed President Esther George to WSJ.

🛢Oil: Oil prices fell more than 3% on Thursday, with fears of more aggressive US interest rates and demand squeezed by rising COVID cases in China. US crude was down 4.6% to US$81.64, and Brent was down 3.3% to US$89.78 per barrel.

👛Bitcoin: At the time of writing, Bitcoin is up 0.20% at US$16,678.10.

📄Iran hands out more death sentences: Four more people have been sentenced to death for "enmity against God" due to their part in anti-government protests in Iran. Revolutionary Courts in Tehran said one of these people hit and killed a policeman with his car. Allegedly, another possessed weapons, one blocked traffic and caused "terror" and the last was involved in a knife attack. Human rights activists condemned the death sentences, saying these people had unfair trials.

💣Poland missile mystery: Ukraine and its allies are disagreeing over which country launched the missile that hit Poland and killed two civilians. The US and its allies have called the incident an unfortunate accident caused by Ukraine's defense against Russia, but now Ukraine is denying that the missiles came from them. This could be a significant clash in public, especially since Russia has been trying to sow division since the start of the conflict.

🚅Iranian metro disaster: Iranian security forces opened fire at a metro station in Tehran and beat women without mandatory hair coverings as protests over the death of Mahsa Amini continue. Footage shared on social media shows people running toward station exits in a panic after police started firing guns on the crowded train platform. Other footage shows police marching through carriages and beating women with batons.

👩‍⚖️Executions in Kuwait: On Wednesday, Kuwait hanged seven people in a mass execution – its first execution since 2017. Among them were four Kuwaitis, a Pakistani, a Syrian and an Ethiopian. Two of the seven were women.

👩Pelosi steps down: US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is stepping down from her position ahead of the Republicans taking control of the House in January. She is the first woman Speaker and has led the House Dems for almost two decades. She'll remain in Congress to represent her district but won't seek reelection for a leadership position.  

👀China/Canada drama: Footage circulated of China's President Xi seemingly confronting Canadian PM Trudeau at the G20 Summit. In the video, the translator can be heard criticizing Trudeau for leaked conversations that were not "appropriate." Since then, a spokesperson has come out to say that it was misinterpreted and that Xi wasn't being confrontational.

🌾Grain deal extended: Ukraine has confirmed that the Black Sea grain deal will be extended by 120 days. The UN and Ukraine initially sought to extend the deal for one year.

📃SpaceX employees speak out: Eight former employees of SpaceX are filing unfair labor practice charges against the company. They say that they were punished for writing a letter that spoke out against the company CEO, Elon Musk. Fired in June, these employees helped organize staff to draft an open letter condemning Musk's online behavior. The letter mentions a joke Musk tweeted about a report suggesting he paid someone who accused him of sexual harassment a US$250,000 settlement.

☕Starbucks strike: Over 2,000 employees at 112 Starbucks locations will have a one-day strike on Thursday, according to their union. They're striking to protest the action taken against union supporters all over the US and Starbucks' refusal to bargain with the union on a labor deal. No contracts have been negotiated, even at stores that unionized almost a year ago.

👩‍⚖️Myanmar prisoner amnesty: On Thursday, Myanmar's ruling military junta freed almost 6,000 prisoners. They include a former British ambassador, a Japanese filmmaker and an Australian economic adviser to deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi. According to state-run media, they were released "for the relationship with other countries and also for humanitarian purposes."

🚀Artemis launch: On Wednesday, the Artemis I mission took off after lots of anticipation. NASA is sending an uncrewed spacecraft around the moon, allowing it to soon send astronauts there again for the first time in half a century.

😷Hong Kong eases COVID restrictions: Hong Kong is set to cut the number of COVID tests new arrivals have to take by half, starting next week. Travelers will be tested at the airport and will need one more test on their second day. Tests taken on days four and six will not be required anymore starting November 21.

🟩Tallest LEGO set: Now, Lego is offering an Eiffel Tower set that reaches 1.49 meters (4.8 feet) when assembled, which makes it Lego's tallest ever set. It's "designed to authentically replicate the momentous wrought iron tower," according to a press release.

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