From Alibaba's cloud shuffle to baby rhinos – Here are today's Headlines

This year, Alibaba went through a bunch of changes.

From Alibaba's cloud shuffle to baby rhinos – Here are today's Headlines
3D printed clouds and figurines are seen in front of the Alibaba Cloud service logo in this illustration taken February 8, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

To start off, we're looking into:

Alibaba's cloud twist

The backstory: This year, Alibaba went through a bunch of changes. March marked a pivotal moment as the e-commerce giant executed its biggest restructuring in 24 years. It split into six units, each with its own CEO and board of directors, leaving them free to consider public listings or fundraise. After this, in June, Eddie Wu took over as CEO, succeeding Daniel Zhang, who redirected his focus toward Alibaba's cloud division and a newly established investment fund.

More recently: Alibaba had planned a spin-off of its Cloud Intelligence Group but recently called off the whole thing. The company said this decision was mainly because of the impact of US tech curbs on advanced chips exported to Chinese companies. The decision spooked investors and led to a US$24 billion selloff over two days.

The development: Alibaba is now reportedly shuffling its leadership to kickstart growth and ride the artificial intelligence (AI) wave. According to insiders, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence has put three new executives in charge. Click the link here for more.

China-Vietnam trade boost

Vietnam China trade
President of Vietnam Vo Van Thuong speaks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in San Francisco, California, U.S., November 15, 2023. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The backstory: China and Vietnam, despite a historical conflict in 1979 known as the Sino-Vietnamese War, have had diplomatic ties since 1950. But, recent tensions over South China Sea boundaries have added complexity to their relationship. China's influence goes beyond diplomacy, as seen in its investments in Vietnam, reaching nearly US$3 billion in the first nine months of the year.

More recently: Last month, China's President Xi Jinping underscored the importance of preserving strong ties and emphasized their friendship's "original intention" during discussions with Vietnamese officials.

The development: Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh in Ho Chi Minh City this past weekend to enhance trade relations. Both parties agreed to strengthen ties in crucial areas such as the digital economy, green development and cross-border e-commerce. Click the link here for more.

Google purges old accounts

The backstory: Google accounts give people access to their personal Gmail, Drive, Docs, Meet, Calendar, Photos and YouTube pages. But just because someone has a bunch of stuff stored on a Google account doesn’t mean they’ve logged on any time recently.

More recently: This past May, on its updated inactive account policy, Google announced it would start purging unused accounts later this year. Since then, seemingly inactive accounts have been receiving notifications about their upcoming deletion so that it doesn’t come as a surprise to users.

The development: Starting December 1, Google is set to delete “inactive” accounts or ones that haven’t been used in two or more years. If you want to make sure that the stuff stored in your old Gmail, Drive or YouTube account is safe, make sure to log into your inactive Google account before Friday. Click the link here for more.

To end, we'll look into:

The micronation of Sealand

Principality of Sealand. Source: Wikimedia Commons/Ryan Lackey

Based on the 1933 Montevideo Convention, there are four criteria for becoming an internationally recognized state – a defined territory, a permanent population or people, some kind of government and the ability to participate in relations with other countries. With this in mind, many “micronations” have popped up since then, with most not expecting to be taken seriously. But one does – the Principality of Sealand.

Sealand isn’t even “land” per se. Only reachable by boat, Sealand is a metal platform off the coast of England that served as a British sea fort during World War II. With this piece of “territory,” a permanent population (of one person), a constitution and a government, it meets the Montevideo Convention criteria. It’s led by ​​its only resident, Prince Michael of Sealand. And it even has a national anthem and a motto, “From the Sea, Freedom.” Click the link here for more.

In other news ...


📉Market snapshot and key quotes:

  • In the US: US stocks took a dip on Monday as Wall Street took a break from four weeks of consecutive rallies.
  • In Hong Kong: Monday saw Hong Kong stocks declining, echoing losses in Asian markets, with investors keeping an eye on upcoming US inflation data.

📊Top gainers/losers and company news:

  • In the US: Teva Pharmaceutica saw a 3.5% gain on Monday after UBS upgraded it from neutral to buy.
  • Okta dipped over 4% following a market performance downgrade by Jefferies, shifting from its previous outperform rating.
  • In Hong Kong: China property stocks slid on Monday. Sunac tumbled over 10%, Logan Group dropped almost 6%, China Vanke dipped 1.9%, and Longfor Group sank 4%

👀The numbers everyone is watching:

  • In the US: This week's key data includes US GDP, wholesale inventories, construction spending and more.
  • In Hong Kong: China's industrial profits fell 7.8% from January to October, the slowest decline since December 2022, marking the weakest performance in almost a year in November.

📅To check out our economic calendar for this week, click here.

More headlines ...

📰Israel/Palestine update: Last week, tens of thousands of Cubans staged a pro-Palestine march led by President Miguel Diaz-Canel, calling for a ceasefire. Demonstrators marched past the US embassy. Now, Elon Musk – who came under fire recently for seeming to endorse an antisemitic post on X – is visiting Israel to speak. Musk toured a site where Hamas attacked and killed civilians and also talked with Israel’s PM Netanyahu about deploying Starlink satellites to get broadband internet for aid groups in Gaza. Musk also said he’d like to help rebuild Gaza after the war. But, on X, misinformation about the conflict in Israel and Palestine is still spreading, with users all over social media now saying that some victims of the violence could be crisis actors. On Monday, Israel and Hamas agreed to extend their temporary pause on fighting for two more days, and both sides also agreed to release more captives.

🌀Storm in Russia and Ukraine: Regions of Russia and annexed Ukraine were just hit by powerful hurricane winds, snowfall and heavy flooding – knocking out electricity for 1.9 million people. Four people have reportedly died because of the storm.

⛑️“Rat miners” try to rescue trapped men in India: After more than two weeks, construction workers in India are still trapped in a tunnel in the Himalayas. The drilling machines that have been brought in to help rescue the workers have all failed, so now the rescue teams are using “rat miners” to try to get the men out. Rat mining is a semi-manual drilling process that can be dangerous.

India tunnel
"Rat miners" stand before they begin manual drilling as rescue operations are in progress after workers got trapped in a collapse of an under-construction tunnel, in Uttarkashi in the northern state of Uttarakhand, India, November 27, 2023. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

📢Russian women protest: Anti-war protests and demonstrations are largely banned in Russia. But, with the ongoing war in Ukraine, many Russian women whose husbands have been deployed for months have begun demonstrating against continued fighting. While the women haven’t really been arrested or dealt with police run-ins, many of their rally permits have been rejected, and some of them have complained about being harassed.

🛢️COP28 and UAE oil deals: The COP28 UN climate talks are set to start this week in the UAE, which was a controversial choice because of the country’s links to Big Oil. The BBC is now reporting that it got a hold of leaked documents showing that the UAE planned to use its position as the host to make new fossil fuel deals. These documents also show that the UAE planned talking points on commercial opportunities for its state renewable energy company, Masdar, with 20 countries.

🗺️North Korea redeploys troops and weapons to DMZ: Last week, North Korea launched a spy satellite, which it says successfully entered orbit. In response, South Korea suspended a clause in a 2018 inter-Korean military agreement and also resumed air surveillance near the North/South border. North Korea has now decided to redeploy weapons to the same border and also send more soldiers to the DMZ.

North Korea
North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un, General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea and Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, provide field guidance to Ryongsong Machinery Joint Enterprise, in Pionyang, North Korea, in this picture released on November 27, 2023. KCNA via REUTERS

👩‍⚖️French teenagers go to beheading trial: In 2020, a teacher in France was beheaded after showing his classes caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammed (who isn’t supposed to be represented visually). The person who killed him was shot and killed by police. Now, six other people who were students at the time are set to sit trial this week over their suspected roles in the teacher’s killing. 

🚘Tesla sues Sweden: Tesla’s manufacturing workers have been on strike in Sweden for weeks after the company refused to sign a collective bargaining agreement. Last week, Swedish postal workers began supporting the labor action by refusing to deliver license plates for Tesla cars. On Monday, a Swedish court ruled that Sweden’s transport authority has to figure out a way to get these plates to Tesla after the company made a court filing over the issue.

💼ByteDance layoffs: ByteDance (the parent company of TikTok) is focusing less on the gaming industry and is currently restructuring its gaming arm. The company is now reportedly cutting hundreds of gaming jobs and has told employees to stop working on unreleased games.

👑“Renaissance” premiere: Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” tour sold out every single show, but many fans didn’t get to see the concert. Luckily, a new concert documentary for the tour is being released in theaters, and it just premiered in Los Angeles. Tyler Perry, Ava DuVernay, Lizzo and Issa Rae were all at the event, as was Queen Bey herself in all her platinum glory.

🦏Baby rhino: Sumatran rhinos are critically endangered, with less than 50 left in the world. Over the weekend, the second Sumatran rhino was born on Indonesia’s island of Sumatra. The mom, Delilah, gave birth to a 25-kilogram (55-pound) male calf at a sanctuary there for Sumatran rhinos.

Sumatran rhinoceros
A male Sumatran rhinoceros was born at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia's Way Kambas National Park on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2023. Source: Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry

🤑Bowie auction: David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” album is a fan favorite, and now his handwritten lyrics and notes for two of the songs on the album are going up for auction. The lyrics for “Suffragette City” and “Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide” will be up for sale by London’s Omega Auctions on Tuesday and is expected to rake in between £50,000 and £100,000 (US$63,000 to US$126,000).

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