From China's tech firms being checked by the US to one seriously good-looking camel – Here's your December 7 news briefing

To start off, we're looking into: China is helping tech firms with US checks – China's memory chip firm YMTC is one of the dozens of companies on the US Unverified List

From China's tech firms being checked by the US to one seriously good-looking camel – Here's your December 7 news briefing
Semiconductor chips are seen on a circuit board of a computer in this illustration picture taken February 25, 2022. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration

To start off, we're looking into:

China is helping tech firms with US checks

China's memory chip firm YMTC is one of the dozens of companies on the US Unverified List, meaning it hasn't yet passed checks ensuring its products won't go to military use. The US doesn't blacklist them right away, but the Department of Commerce said on October 7 that they have a deadline of 60 days to comply, or it will trigger the next steps to move them to the US Entity List – meaning no trade without an approved license.

Now, China's Ministry of Commerce is helping these companies through the US checks, according to inside sources. This is just one more sign of improved cooperation between the countries ever since Biden and Xi's breakthrough meeting at the G20. The 60-day deadline expires on Monday.

TikTok and Bumble join Meta to combat revenge porn

Meta logo is seen in this illustration taken, August 22, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Back in 2017, Facebook (now Meta) asked Australians to participate in a program in which they upload their nudes to the platform. (A big ask, we know!) Then, the tech giant converted the images into a digital fingerprint called a hash. The idea was to give revenge porn victims some control by developing a combat tool called hash-matching technology.

Once the image was "hashed," Meta could search for and block anyone who tries to upload the original images to its platform. The program is in partnership with SWGfL, a UK-based non-profit behind the Revenge Porn Helpline. It might sound weird, but surprisingly, it's actually working. And it has helped over 12,000 people to hash more than 40,000 intimate photos and videos.

This week, TikTok and the dating app Bumble have joined the program, too.

Iran’s three-day strike

People light a fire during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's "morality police", in Tehran, Iran September 21, 2022. WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

Iranians have noticed that the morality police blamed for Mahsa Amini's death have pretty much vanished since mid-September. Last weekend, Iran's Attorney General Montazeri said, "The morality police had nothing to do with the judiciary, and the same institution that established it has now shut it down." This was interpreted to mean that the morality police had actually been shut down.

But now, activists and officials in Iran are criticizing these reports, saying the unit hasn't been disbanded.

As the confusion continues, Iranians are holding a three-day strike. This strike means to pressure Iranian authorities into fully shutting down the morality police. This isn't just an economic strike, either. Teachers, students and factory workers are also striking or sitting in. Shopkeepers and taxi drivers staged walkouts in 40 cities throughout Iran on Monday.

To end, we'll look into:

The COP15, explained

The Montreal city skyline is seen from Mont Royal in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, May 31, 2018. REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang

Just last month, COP27 took place in Egypt. Now, it’s time for COP15, which is a similar but separate international conference. They both revolve around the environment, but COP15 is the UN’s biodiversity summit, while COP27 is all about climate change. Starting Wednesday, COP15 kicks off in Montreal, Canada. Almost 200 countries will be represented, and there will also be tons of researchers and scientists attending.

The big issue that everyone is looking to tackle is the loss of biodiversity we’ve been seeing all over the planet. Whenever different species of plants, animals and other living things disappear, entire ecosystems are in danger. Currently, up to one million species are threatened with extinction, some within just decades from now. There are a few reasons so many living things are dying off: climate change, pollution, overexploitation, unsustainable land and water use and invasive species or disease.

According to Inger Andersen, the executive director of the UN environment program, “As far as biodiversity is concerned, we are at war with nature.” She added: “We need to make peace with nature. Because nature is what sustains everything on Earth … the science is unequivocal.”

Canada’s ambitious aim for this summit is for everyone to agree to conserve about a third of the planet by 2030 – a plan called the “30x30” target. Steven Guilbeault, environmental activist turned climate minister of Canada, explained: “One might argue, and I guess I am, that our 1.5 degrees is protecting 30% of lands and oceans by 2030. It is the biodiversity equivalent of the 1.5 degrees on climate change. And I think that’s one of our collective goals [for this summit].”

While this idea has already gotten the backing of countries like the UK, Costa Rica and France, there are also some real worries about it. Some Indigenous peoples and human rights groups warn that this initiative could lead to land grabs and violence against Indigenous communities which have already been protecting the environment. But, Guilbeault says that he’s been working with Indigenous groups on the proposal.

In other news ...

📉Stocks: MSCI’s global gauge of stocks is down 1.27% at 2662.07 at the time of writing.

📰Some specifics:

  • Dow Jones is down 1.03% to 33,596.34.
  • Nasdaq Composite fell 2% to 11,014.89.
  • S&P 500 lost 1.44% to 3,941.26.
  • Hang Seng Index is down 0.40% to 19,441.18.

🧠Some quick factors to bear in mind:

  • In the US, stocks tumbled on Tuesday as the market speculated how long the Fed would keep interest rates high and fears of a recession worried Wall Street.
  • Data on Monday showed that US services industry activity unexpectedly picked up in November, prompting speculation the Fed may hike interest rates more than recently projected.
  • Wall Street was dragged lower by banking shares and Meta Platforms, which slumped 6.8% after EU regulators ruled Facebook and Instagram shouldn’t require users to agree to personalized ads based on their digital activity.
  • All eyes will be on the release of the key consumer price index data for November next Tuesday, which will provide insight into the pace of inflation.
  • Chinese stocks closed higher on Tuesday in China as the market expects China to loosen its zero-COVID policy and open up its economy, lifting sentiment.
  • Meanwhile, Hong Kong stocks fell after hitting their highest level since September 1 on Tuesday, as strong US services data raised concerns over Fed’s path on interest rate hikes.

👄Some comments and chatter:

  • “We see a steep climb from here following the extreme underperformance of the last two years,” said Morgan Stanley.
  • “We have not yet seen the bottom on equity prices,” said Lauren Goodwin, portfolio strategist at New York Life Investments. “While this phase of equity market volatility is likely to end in the next few months, earnings have not yet adapted to a recessionary environment.”
  • “Inflation is eroding everything I just said, and that trillion and a half dollars will run out sometime mid-year next year. When you’re looking out forward, those things may very well derail the economy and cause a mild or hard recession that people worry about,” said JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.

🛢Oil: Oil prices slipped on Tuesday, with Brent trading below US$80 for the second time in 2022, as investors grappled with an uncertain economy. US crude settled down 3.5% to US$74.25, and Brent fell 4% to US$79.35 per barrel.

👛Bitcoin: At the time of writing, Bitcoin is up 0.04% at US$16,971.30.

📄Indonesia passes extramarital sex law: Indonesia just passed a new criminal code that bans extramarital sex for anyone in the country and puts controls on political freedoms. It isn’t just referring to adultery – it includes sex between unmarried couples. This essentially criminalizes same-sex relations in the country as well. Breaking this law can result in jail time of up to a year after these laws go into effect in three years. The laws will apply to residents and foreigners visiting alike.

📺Latvia shuts down Russian broadcaster: The only independent Russian TV channel, TV Rain, was just shut down in Latvia. This is because of accusations that it shows content supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine. TV Rain claims the allegations are false.

📢Protesters in Mongolia: On Monday, thousands of people protested in Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, against alleged corruption in its coal industry and rising inflation. Some of the demonstrators even tried storming the government house.

😢DRC massacre: The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) says that 272 civilians were killed in a massacre in Kishishe last week. Before, they’d thought it was a death toll of 50. The government thinks that the M23 rebel group is responsible for this tragedy, but they have denied involvement.

🚌Colombia’s deadly landslide: On Sunday, at least 34 people died in Colombia after a landslide hit a bus. The landslide was caused by heavy rain. Now, rescuers are digging into the mud to find survivors, with nine people already rescued alive – including a 7-year-old girl.

💐Jiang Zemin funeral: Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke at a memorial service for former President Jiang Zemin, who died last week. He called on China to unite behind him in his hourlong speech.

📜Sudan crisis deal: On Monday, Sudan’s coup leaders and its main pro-democracy group signed a deal to create a civilian-led government after the military took control last year. Some important people weren’t there, though, and there’s not really a timeline for the transition. The country hopes to move toward democracy.

😷Beijing drops COVID testing: In Beijing, residents are now allowed in parks, supermarkets, offices and airports without needing a negative COVID test. This comes as COVID curbs are loosening all over China.

📢Protests in Greece: After Greek police shot a 16-year-old while chasing him on Monday for allegedly stealing gas, violent protests have popped up in Thessaloniki. The boy was shot in the head and is currently in the hospital. The officer who shot him has been suspended. About 1500 people went to the protests, destroying property and throwing Molotov cocktails at police.

🤝Xi to visit Saudi Arabia: Chinese President Xi Jinping is visiting Saudi Arabia this week for a state visit. Xi’s trip begins Wednesday, and there will be a “Saudi-Chinese summit,” a China-Arab summit and a China-GCC summit. This trip comes as both countries have higher tensions with the US.

🐵Neuralink’s animal testing: Elon Musk’s company Neuralink, which makes digital medical devices, will have to deal with a federal probe because of animal-welfare violation accusations. According to docs seen by Reuters, Neuralink staff complained about rushed animal testing, which led to the animals’ suffering and deaths. This is happening as Neuralink develops a brain implant to help with neurological conditions and to help paralyzed people walk again.

🍏Apple postponing its car launch: Apple’s self-driving electric car project, called Titan, has been put on the back burner, with the launch pushed back until 2026, according to people familiar with the project. Apparently, the tech needed for the project isn’t up to snuff yet.

⚽Ronaldo benched: Cristiano Ronaldo was taken off the starting lineup for Portugal's match against Switzerland on Tuesday’s World Cup games. Gonçalo Ramos, Ronaldo’s replacement, scored his first goal in the 17th minute, putting Portugal in the lead. The switch came a day after the coach has issues with Ronaldo’s attitude in the last game.

🔥Homo naledi and cave fires: There are signs that one of our ancient relatives, Homo naledi, could’ve lit controlled fires in an underground cave system. Researchers recently discovered the remains of what seem like small fireplaces and walls and ceilings covered in soot within South Africa’s Rising Star cave complex. Homo naledi were the only hominids with remains there; they lived between 335,000 and 236,000 years ago.

🐪World Cup camel pageant: At the World Cup this year, the Ministry of Sports and Youth and the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy in Qatar hosted a camel pageant to educate visitors on cultural awareness. These kinds of pageants happen in the Middle East often. The camel who won is named Nazaa’a.

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