From the close of COP27 to confused circling sheep – Here's your November 21 news briefing

To start off, we're looking into: COP27 ends with a historic step – For the last two weeks, representatives of nearly 200 countries have been in talks to resolve global warming at the COP27 summit in Egypt.

From the close of COP27 to confused circling sheep – Here's your November 21 news briefing
People attend the closing plenary at the COP27 climate summit in Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, November 20, 2022. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

To start off, we're looking into:

COP27 ends with a historic step

For the last two weeks, representatives of nearly 200 countries have been in talks to resolve global warming at the COP27 summit in Egypt. Wealthy and developing countries negotiated for days because "loss and damage" was the summit's main focus. Some have called for reparations to developing countries for losses and damages caused by climate-related disasters.

Finally, on Sunday, the summit closed with a last-minute agreement to create a climate fund to help poorer countries cope with climate disasters. This means vulnerable countries will be prioritized, and high emitters like China and India may also need to contribute to the fund. The agreement is a historic breakthrough in global climate politics, considering that the deal was approved with no rejection on the floor and that wealthy and industrialized nations agreed to pay for the pollution they're responsible for.

Elizabeth Holmes sentenced

Source: Sky News

Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of blood testing start-up Theranos, was the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, often called a “female Steve Jobs.” But now she’s infamous for being the biggest Silicon Valley con artist. The unicorn, once valued at US$9 billion, made big promises to revolutionize blood testing with a groundbreaking device called Edison.

Then, an exposé on Holmes and Theranos revealed they lied about the technology. She was charged with 11 counts of fraud and found guilty of four counts in 2021. Last week, US prosecutors suggested 15 years prison time for Holmes, but her lawyer argued for a maximum of 18 months and reducing it to house arrest because she was harmless.

On Friday, the 38-year-old former CEO was given 11 years and three months in prison for three counts of investor fraud and one count of conspiracy.

FIFA chief’s strange opening

This year’s World Cup is the first ever held in the Middle East, making it a historical event. But it’s also seen a lot of criticism. Qatar is hosting, and that’s brought the eyes of the world onto human rights issues there related to migrant workers, the LGBTQ community and women’s rights.

Now, the president of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, is getting attention for his opening statements. The World Cup kicked off on Sunday, and he spoke on Saturday – for an hour. With FIFA being criticized for going ahead with Qatar as a host country, he was ready to push back.

He attacked Western critics of Qatar, Western companies who work with the country and human rights groups and news media who have brought attention to issues, particularly those of migrant workers. He accused them of “moral lesson-giving” and “hypocrisy,” saying that changes take time.

To end, we'll look into:

What’s the future for crypto?

Representations of virtual cryptocurrencies are placed on U.S. dollar banknotes in this illustration taken November 28, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Crypto hasn’t been performing super well over this past year. Add in the FTX meltdown that’s been unfolding over the past couple of weeks, and we’re left wondering what’s going on with crypto. And we want to know where this whole spectacle is going.

To start, here’s the FTX collapse in a nutshell – on November 2, info leaked that made the relationship between major crypto-exchange marketplace FTX and its CEO Sam Bankman-Fried’s trading house, Alameda, look kind of fishy. It seemed like Alameda relied on the coin that FTX produced, FTT. Then, another crypto-exchange company, Binance, said FTX was going to liquidate US$580 million worth of FTT. That set off a series of drawdowns that FTX didn’t have the cash to allow. FTT tanked, and so did all other major cryptocurrencies. On November 11, FTX and Alameda filed for bankruptcy, and Bankman-Fried resigned as CEO of FTX.

This whole thing leaves crypto in a strange place. Crypto is decentralized, not at the mercy of any country’s currency – but also not really supported by any currency, either. Money in the bank is usually insured by the government in some capacity. There is no insurance here, and people have lost a whole lot of money that they won’t get back.

Will crypto survive? Matt Hougan, CIO at crypto asset manager Bitwise, says: “In the short term, FTX’s collapse has destroyed trust. The marginal crypto investor will now think twice before signing up for an account, and many institutional investors will sit on the sidelines waiting to see what other shoes will drop.” Because of how involved FTX has been with the overall crypto economy, we won’t know exactly how far-reaching this disaster has been. It could even affect the economy outside of crypto.

Historically, cryptocurrencies have been able to recover after hard setbacks. They become stronger as new versions of themselves. This time, crypto was on the way to being more legitimized as a market, and now regulators have a reason to continue being skeptical. Katherine Wu, a crypto investor, tweeted on Tuesday that it was a “truly sickening news day - can’t even begin to assess the potential damage our industry will have to face.”

In other news ...

🏭Ukraine nuclear plant attacked: Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is occupied by Russia, was shelled on Sunday. The UN has already condemned the attack, which could cause a nuclear disaster. It was hit more than a dozen times on Saturday into Sunday.

✈Turkey launches campaign over Syria: Turkey's military flew over Syria and Iraq on Saturday for an air operation, killing 11 Syrians (including one journalist). No deaths in Iraq were reported. This move follows the explosion in Istanbul last week, which Turkey is blaming Kurdish separatists for and these Kurdish groups deny.

💣Another North Korea launch: On Friday, North Korea launched another missile, one that the country said was a "new" kind of intercontinental ballistic missile. Japan warned that the missile has the potential to reach the US mainland.  

🤝Harris and Xi talks: On Saturday, Chinese President Xi spoke with US Vice-President Kamala Harris at the APEC forum in Bangkok a few days after speaking with US President Biden. Xi said he hoped both sides would really come to a mutual understanding and eventually restore a "healthy and stable" bilateral relationship. And Harris said that the US doesn't want conflict or confrontation with China, stressing the need for open communication between the countries.

📩World's longest-serving leader runs again: On Sunday, the world's longest-ruling leader, President Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea, held a vote to extend his 43-year-rule. He's won more than 90% of the vote in elections over his five terms after seizing power from his uncle in a 1979 coup. Now, he has two opposition candidates: Buenaventura Monsuy Asumu, who's run in the five other elections, and Andrés Esono Ondo, who's running for the first time.

👩‍⚖️Bulgaria charges people in Istanbul bombing: Five people (four men and one woman) in Bulgaria have been charged with supporting terrorist acts connected to the explosion in central Istanbul that killed six people last week. They were also charged with human trafficking. A Bulgarian court ruled that the four men would be kept in pre-trial detention on the human trafficking charges. The woman will not be held before trial for health reasons.

🔫Iran security forces shoot at civilians: Iranian security forces shot and killed at least three people in the province of Kurdistan during a protest. The violent protest crackdowns have resulted in at least 342 deaths, six death sentences and more than 15,000 arrests, according to the group Iran Human Rights.

🐼Giant panda dies in Taipei: Tuan Tuan, one of two giant pandas gifted to Taiwan by China in 2008, died on Saturday. He was believed to have a malignant brain tumor, and China sent two experts to Taiwan to help with his treatment earlier in November. Unfortunately, Tuan Tuan didn't make it. He is succeeded by his mate and two cubs.

🐤More Twitter layoffs: Bloomberg reported that Elon Musk is considering firing more Twitter staff as early as Monday. He's given employees an ultimatum – either stay and work longer hours at a new "hardcore" Twitter or take severance pay and leave.

📏New metric unit measurements: With more digital data being created and needing storage, the world needs more unit measurements to deal with increasing numbers. So, on Friday, the 27th General Conference on Weights and Measures created four new prefixes to the metric system: ronna (27 zeroes after the first digit) and quetta (30 zeroes) at the top of the measurement range, and ronto (27 zeroes after the decimal point) and quecto (30 zeroes) at the bottom.

🐦Lost bird species found: A bird that scientists thought was extinct for 140 years was just rediscovered in the forests of Papua New Guinea. The black-naped pheasant-pigeon was only ever documented in 1882 – until now. Rediscovering the bird took the expedition team over a month, and they caught footage of it just before they were scheduled to leave.

🐑Mysterious sheep phenomenon: Hundreds of sheep in China have been walking in circles nonstop for 12 days, and no one knows why. One possible reason for this weird behavior could be Listeriosis (also known as Circling Disease), which can cause animals to lean against objects, throw themselves into corners or circle toward the affected side.


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