From Iger's big Disney comeback to a massive underwater volcano – Here's your November 23 news briefing

To start off, we're looking into: What's happening at Disney? – Bob Iger was Disney's CEO for 15 years, retiring in December 2021.

From Iger's big Disney comeback to a massive underwater volcano – Here's your November 23 news briefing

To start off, we're looking into:

What's happening at Disney?

Bob Iger was Disney's CEO for 15 years, retiring in December 2021. He appointed Bob Chapek as his successor in February 2020. But while Chapek was at the top, Disney faced a lot of challenges. For one, the company reported a US$1.47 billion loss earlier this month, and its shares tumbled. Chapek responded with a hiring freeze and layoffs. This was just one on top of many decisions that rubbed people the wrong way. Eventually, complaints about him reached the board, and it did something pretty shocking by calling back its former CEO.

On Sunday, Disney announced it would immediately bring back Iger to take over as CEO. On Monday, Iger wasted no time fixing Chapek's mess. The news shocked investors in a good way, as Wall Street expects him to turn the struggling streaming business around. Disney's shares rose over 6% after the announcement on Monday, adding around US$10 billion to its market value.

Hong Kong is winning the transit game

Source: Shutterstock

If you live in Hong Kong, you know that the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) is the city’s primary public transportation. Well, according to a new study, it’s also the top transit system in the world.

Despite having millions of passengers daily, the MTR is convenient and efficient. In fact, it boasts a 99.9% punctuality rate. And it’s pretty impressive that the MTR is air-conditioned and so clean (forget your typical pee smell, like in many major railways).

A new study by the Oliver Wyman Forum evaluated the public transit system in 60 cities worldwide, ranking each on factors from affordability to commuting speeds to operating hours and distance. Hong Kong’s MTR ranks the highest among the top five, followed by Zurich, Stockholm, Singapore and Helsinki, for its affordable fares, rare delays in services and for supporting itself financially.

A rough winter for Ukraine

Source: AP News

When the Russian invasion of Ukraine started, it seemed like Russia had this conflict in the bag. But Ukraine has held up against the invasion surprisingly well. Over the past nine months of (really brutal) war, Ukraine has forced Russia into retreating over key territories like Kherson. Still, Russia's done some real damage to Ukraine's infrastructure. Last week, it launched its biggest attack yet on Ukraine's power plants, substations, natural gas facilities and waterworks, continuing to wreck the power grid.

Source: AP News

Right now, more than half the country's energy system has been damaged. With winter coming fast and Kyiv already covered in snow, how is Ukraine dealing with this? Ukrainian authorities have begun evacuating people from liberated parts of Kherson and Mykolaiv, afraid that a lack of heat, power and water would make these places basically unlivable. It's also advising citizens that can to stay away for a few months to give hospitals and infrastructure a much-needed break.

To end, we'll look into:

Hong Kong’s Magistracy is brought back to life

Source: Hong Kong University

Hong Kong is a unique cultural hub, especially known for its food and dining experiences. But it also has some pretty interesting and diverse architecture. With a storied past involving both East and West, you’re likely to find all kinds of influences on design throughout the city. From contemporary Manhattan-like skyscrapers to Taoist temples to Victorian-style structures, Hong Kong is really something to see.

But there’s one specific building we want to talk about today.

The Magistracy in Tai Kwun has opened as a new culinary and social space in Hong Kong. The current building was constructed in 1914 after its predecessor was demolished. It was made an official monument in 1997 as one of the oldest law buildings in the city; it used to host Hong Kong’s Supreme Court. Because the building hasn’t been operational since 1984, not much has happened in this space in nearly 40 years.

But a hospitality group here in Hong Kong, Black Sheep Restaurants, has transformed this building into a totally different concept. Hosting restaurants, bars and a botanical garden, The Magistracy is still drawing on Hong Kong’s past in its framework. Its design is inspired by London restaurants, with tapestries, lamp fittings with gold accents, a spiral staircase and a semi-private dining balcony within the restaurant. Its botanical garden, though, really lets the plants do the talking, reminiscent of British heritage gardens.

Source: The Magistracy Hong Kong

Joyce Wang Studio, based in London and Hong Kong, spearheaded the design. “It’s been an honor to work on a site of such historic significance in my home city,” said founder Joyce Wang. “We are reigniting memories of the older generations and conjuring pride for the younger generations. The space now exudes importance – authentic to its former self as the pillar for social justice for Hong Kong. Personally, I can’t wait for untold stories to be shared across the dining table, bridging generations closer to one another.”

The Magistracy is still in the process of launching, but its first phase is now open to guests. More will be added in the coming months, including bars, private dining, a sports center and a sprawling wine cellar.

In other news ...

📈Stocks: MSCI’s global gauge of stocks is up 1.33% at ​​2675.46 at the time of writing.

📰Some specifics:

  • Dow Jones is up 1.18% to 34,098.10.
  • Nasdaq Composite is up 1.36% to 11,174.41.
  • S&P 500 is up 1.36% to 4,003.58.
  • Hang Seng Index is down 1.31% to 17,424.41.

🧠Some quick factors to bear in mind:

  • In the US, stocks rose on Tuesday as Wall Street bet the Fed's interest rate hikes and inflation may ease into the year's end. Investors are looking for more to be revealed with the Fed's minutes coming out on Wednesday.
  • The S&P 500 closed at its highest level since September 12, and the US dollar retreated from a three-day rally.
  • Some stocks jumped on their earnings beats. Best Buy jumped about 12.8%, Abercrombie & Fitch rose around 21.4% and American Eagle Outfitters rose about 18.2%
  • Bitcoin hit US$15,480 briefly on Tuesday, its lowest point since November 11, 2020, and has since gotten back above US$16K as investors weigh the outcome of the FTX implosion.
  • The stock market will close on Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday and close early on Friday.
  • In China, stocks fell on Tuesday as China's COVID control restrictions weigh on investors and increase worries about recent flare-ups. Chinese stocks in the US also fell as China reiterated its zero-COVID policy. Beijing shut down parks and museums, and China's financial hub, Shanghai, tightened rules for people entering the city.

👄Some comments and chatter:

  • “We think the Fed leadership wants to get off the 75-basis-point-a-meeting hamster wheel even though it is finding it hard to do so while maintaining control of financial conditions. We think the Fed is still heading for a ‘hawkish slowing.’ And, for us at least, the slowing part is what matters,” said Evercore ISI analyst Krishna Guha.
  • “That’s a huge weight off the shoulders of investors that have had absolutely nowhere to hide this year,” said Phil Camporeale, managing director and portfolio manager at JPMorgan Asset Management.
  • “Some of the biggest risks that we see over the next 12 months are driven by the fact that things are different this time,” said Savita Subramanian, Bank of America’s head of US equity and quantitative strategy.

🛢Oil: Oil prices rose about 1% on Tuesday after Saudi Arabia said that OPEC+ would stick with the output cuts it previously announced and could take further steps to balance the market. US crude rose 1.1% to US$80.95, and Brent rose 1% to US$88.36 per barrel.

👛Bitcoin: At the time of writing, Bitcoin is up 2.23% at 16,11.15.

😢Death toll jumps in Indonesia: After a 5.6 magnitude earthquake hit Java island in Indonesia on Monday, the death toll has jumped to at least 268 people. As of now, 1,083 people are injured, and 151 people are still missing. At least 58,000 people have been displaced. All of these numbers could rise.

😷China lockdowns: On Tuesday, COVID restrictions tightened in different areas of China as cases continue to rise. Beijing shut down parks and museums, and Shanghai tightened rules for entering the city. On Monday, China reported 28,127 new domestically transmitted cases, with Guangzhou and Chongqing being major transmission areas.

🤝US and Chinese defense ministers meet: On Tuesday, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with Defense Minister Wei Fenghe for the first time since US Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taipei in August. Austin urged Wei to avoid “destabilizing actions” when it comes to Taiwan, and also requested open communication with Wei moving forward. Wei agreed that communication is important in crisis management, but also blamed the US for triggering tension between the two countries.

👑Malaysian government crisis: In a surprising turn of events, Malaysia’s king will be choosing the next prime minister. Neither of Malaysia’s two major parties got parliamentary majority in the general election, and they couldn’t work together to figure out how to move forward to create a government.

💥Serbia and Kosovo dispute could escalate: The EU’s foreign policy chief is warning that there could be escalation in the situation between Kosovo and Serbia. The EU had emergency talks between Kosovo and Serbia, which failed to solve the dispute over the Serbian minority in Kosovo having to use Kosovan car license plates.

🚒Factory fire in China: A fire at a factory in the Henan province of China killed 38 people on Monday. Two others were being treated for minor injuries.

🤑Funds pledged to Moldova: French President Emmanuel Macron said more than 100 million euros (US$102 million) were raised at an international aid conference on Monday to help assist Moldova, which is suffering collateral damage from Russia’s war in neighboring Ukraine. The country is dealing with widespread blackouts, an energy crisis, a flood of refugees and security threats. As winter comes on, it could be in more trouble.

📢The sister speaks: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister has shown up in the news lately, and today she warned the US that pushing the UN to condemn North Korea’s missile tests would bring it “a more fatal security crisis.” Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, compared the US to “a barking dog seized with fear.”

🏆Saudi Arabia stuns at WC: Saudi Arabia kicked butt at the World Cup on Tuesday, beating South American champions Argentina 2-1 in an unexpected victory. Saudi Arabia shocked fans as they ended Argentina’s 36-match winning streak – one short of the international record.

🗞The devil’s in the details: Remember those missiles that landed in Poland mysteriously and killed two civilians? Well, AP has fired a journalist for reporting that a US intelligence officer said Russia fired them into Poland. This is why we fact-check so hard.

⚽Cristiano Ronaldo is out: Manchester United announced Tuesday that star player Cristiano Ronaldo would be leaving the team immediately. His departure was agreed on mutually, and the announcement comes a week after Ronaldo gave a viral interview airing his frustrations with the club.

👩‍✈️Pilots flying solo?: Airlines and regulators have started pushing to allow passenger planes to be flown by just one pilot instead of two. This would lower costs and help when there are crew shortages. But some people are concerned about putting so much control on the shoulders of one person. Over 40 countries including Germany, the UK and New Zealand are asking the UN to make single-pilot flights a “safe” reality.

🌋Tongan Volcano eruption: A New Zealand-led team of marine geologists have been investigating an underwater volcano that erupted in January in the Tongan archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean. They now believe that it was the largest ever recorded volcano eruption. Known as the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano, this eruption caused a tsunami and a sonic boom, plus it shot a huge cloud of ash and steam into the atmosphere.

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