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To start off, we're looking into:
China's EV push in Europe
The backstory: In the world of electric vehicles (EVs), Chinese manufacturers have been making a buzz. Last year, EV sales in China shot up, with an 87% surge compared to the year before. But these companies, like BYD, Nio and SAIC Motor, are now venturing into Europe. Chinese EVs are usually cheaper than European ones, giving them an edge. But when they try to sell in Europe, there are extra costs like shipping, taxes and meeting regulations.
The development: Some brands, like MG, have already made a name for themselves in the region, but others, like XPeng and Nio, face the task of winning over skeptical buyers. As a strategy to overcome this skepticism, several Chinese manufacturers have scored five-star safety ratings under European standards to give buyers a boost of confidence. As these Chinese EV giants step into this new market, they're developing ways to improve their chances of success with European customers. Click the link here for more.
India onion exports
The backstory: India is a major global supplier of onions, especially to neighboring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. And onions are vital ingredients in Asian cuisine. After events like heavy rainfall lead to damaged crops, the prices of onions shoot up. So in 2019 and 2020, India halted onion exports to stabilize local prices, which led to shortages in neighboring nations.
More recently: This year, India saw a 63% surge in onion exports, totaling 1.46 million metric tons. But wholesale onion prices surged by 20% between July and August, reaching 2,400 rupees (US$28.87) per 100 kilograms because people were worried that more rainfall might lower crop yields.
The development: India's Ministry of Finance just announced that the nation is putting a 40% export duty on onions through the end of the year. The aim is to maintain sufficient onion supplies in the domestic market and prevent price fluctuations. Click the link here for more.
Pig kidney transplant success
The backstory: In the US, there are over 100,000 people waiting on the organ transplant list. For more context, China reported over 20,000 transplants in the country in 2022 alone, according to the Global Observatory on Donation and Transplantation. But many people die each day waiting on a transplant.
More recently: Around the world, there’s a shortage of suitable organs to offer to people who desperately need them. That’s why scientists have been looking into ways to potentially use animal organs as a solution. The problem is a lot of these experiments transplanting animal organs into human bodies have failed, as our immune system often rejects and attacks the organs, sometimes as soon as they’re implanted.
The development: Last week, doctors in New York announced that a pig kidney transplanted into the donated body of a brain-dead patient had successfully worked for over a month. This is the longest a pig kidney has functioned in a person. Click the link here for more on this development.
To end, we'll look into:
Apples to apples
The Apple logo is iconic, to say the least. It’s widely believed that co-founder Steve Jobs came up with the company name from his love of fruit (sometimes eating a “fruitarian” diet). And the bitten Apple logo has been central to the brand since designer Rob Janoff created it in 1977.
Over the past few years, Apple has been running a campaign to pick up the intellectual property rights for images of the apple fruit. Not the bitten apple icon – just the apple. This IP project has been kinda working, with the World Intellectual Property Organization’s records showing that Apple has requested these rights from dozens of IP authorities on a global scale. Officials in Japan, Turkey, Israel and Armenia have given in to some extent.
But the whole Apple trademarking crusade hasn’t gotten much attention until it headed to Switzerland, where it just appealed a decision by the Swiss IP agency after it said basically the image of an apple is a public good that can’t be trademarked. Click the link here for more on this trademark dispute.
In other news ...
💔Mali attack: The West African nation of Mali is dealing with an insurgency with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State that kicked off following a separatist rebellion in 2012. Officials have said that gunmen killed at least 23 people in an attack on a village called Yarou in central Mali's insurgency-hit Mopti region on Friday.
💣Pakistan IED kills 11: Northwestern Pakistan saw 11 workers killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) as they were on their way to a construction project in Waziristan, near the Afghan border, this weekend. Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar posted on Sunday on X (formerly Twitter) about the incident, calling it a "terrorist attack." No groups have yet claimed responsibility for the explosion.
📢South China Sea drills: Filipino security officials announced on Sunday that the US, Japan and Australia are planning a joint navy drill in the South China Sea off the western Philippines this week. This comes after an incident earlier this month when a Chinese coast guard ship used its water cannons against a Philippine ship in the disputed waterway. One official said the Philippines would not participate in the drills this time, but the country is open to participating in the future.
✈F-16 jets for Ukraine: With the ongoing war in Ukraine, the country has been relying on support from allies, especially for defense and ammunition supplies. During a visit from Ukraine President Zelenskiy, the prime ministers of The Netherlands and Denmark announced on Sunday that they will deliver F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine starting around the first of the year. This follows the US decision to approve the two countries supplying Ukraine with the US-made fighter jets.
🌀Tropical Storm Hilary: Tropical Storm Hilary made landfall over the Baja California peninsula on Sunday, bringing lots of rain and flooding toward the US Southwest, which is used to more dry conditions. According to the Mexican Army, one person died in Mexico amid reports of flash flooding, and nearly 2,000 people had been evacuated to shelters in the region. Flights and sporting events were also affected by cancelations in California due to the storm.
👩⚖️Egyptian pardons: Political activist Ahmed Douma was detained in Egypt about a decade ago and sentenced in 2019 to 15 years in prison for rioting and attacking security forces during pro-democracy protests. But since 2021, the Egyptian government has taken several steps it says are aimed at addressing human rights issues, including pardoning notable prisoners. On Saturday, state TV confirmed President al-Sisi had pardoned and released Douma, along with some other prisoners. But critics have said this is all for looks and concerning arrests are ongoing in the country.
🚀Russia's lunar mission crashes: Russia and India have launched lunar landers toward the moon in a race to see who touches down first. On Sunday, Russian space agency Roscosmos said its lunar lander, Luna-25, had spun into an uncontrolled orbit and "ceased to exist" after hitting the moon's surface. Meanwhile, India's Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft is currently orbiting the moon with plans to attempt a touchdown later this week.
🚫We20 meeting ended: Ahead of the G20 in New Delhi next month, prominent activists, academics and politicians were set to meet at something called the We20 Peoples' Summit to discuss global issues. On Sunday, the meeting's organizers said New Delhi police sent a letter telling them to shut the event down because it didn't have the proper permission in a high-security zone.
🔥Tenerife evacuations: Over 12,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes in Tenerife, Spain, as wildfires burn across the Canary Island. About 11 towns have been hit by the fires, although most of the tourist areas haven't seen damage. Tenerife firefighters have called the emergency operations their "largest deployment in history," and they're being helped by mainland emergency services and the country's military. Police said on Sunday they believe the fires were caused by arson and have three lines of investigation ongoing.
👷♀️Turkish Cypriot construction halted: Cyprus was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 following a coup, and a UN buffer zone separating opposing Greek and Turkish Cypriots was created. It's about 180 kilometers (112 miles) long. Turkish Cypriot authorities want to build a road that would give residents of Pyla/Pile, in the buffer zone, access to Turkish Cypriot territory. But on Friday, UN peacekeepers were trying to halt any construction in the area, saying the buffer zone is under UN jurisdiction. A UN spokesperson said three peacekeepers were seriously injured and had to go to hospital, but no shots were fired.
🐟Kishida to meet fishermen: The Japanese government has a plan to release treated and diluted nuclear wastewater from the damaged Fukushima plant into the ocean over several decades, and the plan's been given the green light by the UN as well. But, many neighboring countries and environmental activists are worried about how it may affect seafood and ocean waters. Japanese PM Kishida said he'd meet fishermen organizations as early as Monday to discuss the plan, but on Sunday, he did not confirm a specific timeline for the release. Some news media have said it could happen around late August and early September.
🐕Goodbye cheemsburbgers: Cheems, the beloved Shiba Inu dog who took the internet by storm through its viral "doge" memes, has sadly passed away at the age of 12 during leukemia surgery. He was one of several popular doges, and his real name was Balltze (or Ball Ball). His owners said the money donated for his medical treatment would now go to local charities. "Don't be sad, please remember the joy that Balltze brought to the world. A Shiba Inu with a round smiling face connecting you and me, he has helped many people during the pandemic and brought a lot of joy to many of you, but now his mission has completed," Cheems' owners posted online.
📉VinFast shares come back to Earth: Vietnamese EV-maker VinFast had a soaring IPO last week that brought its shares up around 255%, but now those have settled back down. Chairman and founder Pham Nhat Vuong, who added about US$40 billion to his net worth on the stock's first US trading day, has now seen his worth fall about 52% to US$21.2 billion over the same three-day period, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The company's shares closed at US$15.40 on Friday.
🚷Musk to remove blocking feature: Elon Musk's social media company X, formerly known as Twitter, is planning to remove its blocking feature. The feature currently allows a user to restrict specific accounts from contacting them, seeing their posts or following them. Musk announced on Friday it would be removed, except for in the case of DMs. This may cause problems for the X app with Apple and Google, as both of their app stores require apps to have some sort of blocking for abusive users.
💬FIFA prez tells women to "convince" men: It's been big news that female football players and events don't get as much money as their male counterparts. But this year, two billion people tuned in to watch the Women's World Cup, and two million attended matches in person, both record highs. Many have called for women's teams to be fairly compensated and paid as much as men. On Friday, FIFA President Gianni Infantino stirred up some controversy when he said women have the "power to convince us men" on the case for pay equality. Infantino has previously said he hopes to offer equal prize money for the Men's and Women's World Cups within a few years.
⚽Spain wins Women's World Cup: The Women's World Cup has gripped football fans over the past few weeks, and now we have a winner. Spain took home the championship, defeating England 1-0 on Sunday. Spain captain Olga Carmona scored the only goal in the match, leading the Spanish team to victory. In a bittersweet twist, she learned her father had died following a long illness on Friday after the final, which her family chose to keep from her so she could focus on the game. "We send our most sincere embrace to Olga and her family in a moment of deep sorrow. We love you, Olga, you are Spanish soccer history," the Spanish Football Association (RFEF) wrote on social media.
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