From a major PFAS ruling to Spotify Wrapped – Here are today's Headlines

Over the last 20 years, global chemical giant 3M has been entangled in a legal labyrinth.

From a major PFAS ruling to Spotify Wrapped – Here are today's Headlines
A logo is pictured outside of Dupont offices in Geneva, Switzerland, April 15, 2021. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

To start off, we're looking into:

3M wins PFAS lawsuit

The backstory: Over the last 20 years, global chemical giant 3M has been entangled in a legal labyrinth. The reason? Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. These chemicals linger in the human body and the environment and can cause health problems.

Nicknamed "forever chemicals," PFAS became a headache for 3M, with a slew of lawsuits alleging that the company knew about their health risks. 3M isn't alone in this problem. Other industry giants like DuPont have also gotten caught up in the PFAS legal tangle.

More recently: Over the last few years, these companies have faced a massive potential class action lawsuit over these chemicals, which are used in a huge amount of consumer products like clothes and non-stick pans.

The development: Now, in the US, an appeals court just ruled in favor of 3M, Corteva and other PFAS manufacturers. Click the link here for more.

AWS's AI leap

Amazon Nvidia AI
The logo of Amazon is seen at the company's logistics centre in Boves, France, October 6, 2021 REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo

The backstory: Last year, OpenAI's ChatGPT shook up the tech world, bringing artificial intelligence (AI) into the spotlight. Nvidia, known for its graphics processing units (GPUs) since 1993, initially made a mark in gaming GPUs in 1999. But as the demand for deep-learning AI models soared, Nvidia's GPUs became a hot commodity, pushing the company's market value to over US$1 trillion alongside other elite tech giants.

Amazon Web Services (AWS), a key player in cloud services, also felt the impact of this AI craze. As Amazon's cloud computing branch, AWS offers a range of cloud-based solutions, empowering businesses to innovate and grow without massive infrastructure investments.

The development: Now, AWS is introducing Nvidia's H200 AI GPUs, which feature almost double the speed of their predecessor, the H100. Alongside this, AWS is launching its Trainium2 AI chip and Graviton4 processor. Click the link here for more.

Three-year cruise canceled

Life at Sea Cruises
Source: Pexels/Matthew Barra

The backstory: Long-term live-on cruises are a rare opportunity and also expensive. Last March, the cruise company Life at Sea announced a new 1,095-day travel cruise to visit 140 countries around the world. In the original cruise itinerary, passengers would travel from Istanbul around Europe, then to South America and the Caribbean before going through the Panama Canal to the West Coast of North America and then crossing the Pacific. Passengers would end up visiting all seven continents.

More recently: Life at Sea has been reeling in travelers for months, taking deposits and marketing the cruise. Travelers were advertised the MV Lara cruise ship, which could hold more passengers than the original cruise ship picked for the voyage. Prices for the trip went from around US$38,000 to US$98,000 per person per year.

The development: Less than two weeks before the set sail date, Life at Sea canceled the cruise altogether because it had no ship for the voyage. Click the link here for more.

To end, we'll look into:

Wildlife photographer captures the creatures of Hong Kong

Lawrence Hylton Hong Kong
Source: Lawrence Hylton

When people around the world think of Hong Kong, they’re more likely to picture a metropolis than a wildlife hub. But this region is full of diverse species, especially in its more natural areas.

Even for such a small area, Hong Kong has a ton of biodiversity. According to the government, there are over “3,300 species of plants, 55 species of terrestrial mammals, 115 species of amphibians and reptiles, 194 species of freshwater fish, over 130 dragonfly species and about 245 butterfly species,” along with over 570 recorded bird species (making it home to a third of the total bird species in China).

With so many interesting plants and animals living in this region, wildlife photographers flock here. One photographer, Lawrence Hylton, is making waves by capturing this biodiversity. Click the link here for more.

In other news ...


📉Market snapshot and key quotes:

  • In the US: US stocks closed nearly flat on Wednesday but the overall average remains positive for November gains.
  • In Hong Kong: Hong Kong stocks took a hit, closing lower on Wednesday. The sell-off was driven mainly by profit-taking, especially in the tech sector.

📊Top gainers/losers and company news:

  • In the US: General Motors surged over 9% with a US$10 billion buyback and increased dividends.
  • Foot Locker jumped over 16% on beating Q3 earnings, expecting better same-store sales. 
  • In Hong Kong: Chinese food delivery giant Meituan plunged 12% after warning of a demand slowdown.
  • Baidu fell over 4%, Alibaba slipped 2.2%, and dropped 1.6%. 

👀The numbers everyone is watching:

  • In the US: US GDP for Q3 surpassed expectations, growing at a 5.2% annualized pace, beating forecasts and the initial estimate.
  • In Hong Kong: This week's key data includes China non-manufacturing and China Caixin manufacturing PMI.

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

More headlines ...

📰Israel/Palestine update: The temporary truce is still holding in Gaza, and more aid has reached the territory. Up to 200 aid trucks have been entering from Egypt every day, but the UN has said there are still shortages all over Gaza. Talks are going on with mediators to keep extending the current pause in fighting. On Tuesday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told the UN that Israel should be tried in international courts over war crimes in Gaza. That same day, the head of Doctors Without Borders said that he’d been “trapped” with other staff inside a hospital in a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank during an ongoing Israeli raid in the area. He also reported that two wounded Palestinians had died because ambulances weren’t able to reach them. In the West Bank city of Jenin on Wednesday, four Palestinians, including two children and two senior militant commanders, were killed by occupation forces. Meanwhile, the 10-month-old Israeli hostage Kfir Bibas and his family were reported dead by Hamas on Wednesday, with the group saying these hostages were killed during Israeli strikes. On Wednesday, 16 hostages were released by Hamas, including Israelis, dual nationals and Thai citizens, according to officials. As part of this exchange, Israel will release 30 Palestinian prisoners on Wednesday night

🌏COP28 leader denies accusations: A few days ago, documents leaked showing that the UAE planned to use its position as host of the COP28 climate talks to make more fossil fuel deals. Now, the COP28 president-designate, Sultan Al Jaber, has denied these accusations, saying the reports are an attempt to “undermine the COP28 presidency.”

🗺️Finland-Russia border tensions: Finland closed its entire border with Russia on Wednesday with little notice after accusing Russia of pushing people into the country illegally. Poland then offered to send military advisers to help police the border area. Now, Russia is saying that it would view it as a “threat” if there were a military concentration along that border. Finland said on Wednesday it was unaware of the Polish offer.

⛪Pope Francis illness: Pope Francis’s health has been in the news lately, as he is reportedly experiencing “flu-like symptoms.” He had to cancel his trip to COP28 scheduled for later this week. He went to his weekly audience on Wednesday but is still “not well.”

📄Turkey expected to ratify Sweden’s NATO bid: Turkey has been sitting on Sweden’s bid to join NATO for months now, as complications have come up with the two countries’ relations. On Wednesday, Sweden’s foreign minister announced that Turkey said it would probably ratify the Swedish bid within the next few weeks. 

👩‍⚖️Sikh assassination plot: About two months ago, Canada said there were "credible" allegations linking Indian agents to the June murder of a Sikh separatist leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in Vancouver. Now, the US has charged an Indian national named Nikhil Gupta with conspiracy to assassinate a Sikh separatist living as a US citizen in New York. Manhattan prosecutors allege that Gupta worked with an Indian government employee to plot the murder, but they didn't name the target or the co-conspirator. Czech authorities arrested Gupta in June, and he's waiting for extradition.

🍏Apple pulls the plug on Goldman Sachs: Apple has been offering certain financial services to users for a while, including the Apple Card credit card, high-interest savings accounts and a pay-later platform called Apple Pay Later. Apple offers these things by partnering with Goldman Sachs, which is reportedly taking a big hit of billions of dollars because of this partnership. Now, Apple is allegedly proposing a contract to end the partnership over the next year or so.

✈️Saudi Arabia invests in London airport: London's Heathrow Airport is one of the world's busiest transit hubs. Infrastructure firm Ferrovial used to have a 56% stake in Heathrow, but it's been selling that stake bit by bit since 2006. Now, Ferrovial is selling the remaining 25% of its stake to private equity firm Ardian and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund for £2.37 billion ( around US$3 billion).

🎵Clockenflap cancelations: Hong Kong's much-anticipated Clockenflap music festival is opening this Friday, but there have been some last-minute changes to the lineup. Japanese artist Joji, US singer D4vd and Canadian singer-songwriter Andy Shauf have all pulled out of the festival. Organizers have said they're looking for a replacement for Joji, but fans have already started asking for refunds. 

⚽Messi in Hong Kong: Famed footballer Lionel Messi could be coming to Hong Kong in February to play, as his Inter Miami club has been said to be chatting about playing in the 2024 Lunar New Year Cup, which is expected to return to the city for the first time since 2019. The last time Messi played in Hong Kong was in 2014, when he scored twice in a 7-0 win for Argentina against the city's national team.⁠⁠

📸Giant rat photographed for the first time: A very rare giant rat species (the "Vika") used to be more prevalent in Vangunu, one of the Solomon Islands, where the Indigenous people still say it scurries around. The Vika population has been cut because of logging on the island, and no sightings of it have been recorded for ages. At about 46 centimeters (18 inches) long, the Vika was just captured on camera by researchers, which is the first time one has ever been photographed alive.

Vika rat Vangunu

🎶Spotify Wrapped: It's that time again! Spotify Wrapped has gone live for millions around the world, letting everyone know their most listened-to songs, artists and podcasts, as well as the top streamers of the year globally. This year, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus and Bad Bunny have all made the top ranks.

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