From an Xbox mobile store to chopsticks on the brain – Here are today's Headlines

A mobile gaming store is a place where you can buy and download games for your phone.

From an Xbox mobile store to chopsticks on the brain – Here are today's Headlines
Microsoft logo is seen on a smartphone placed on displayed Activision Blizzard logo in this illustration taken January 18, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

To start off, we're looking into:

Microsoft's Xbox's mobile store push

The backstory: A mobile gaming store is a place where you can buy and download games for your phone. Right now, the big players in this scene are Apple's App Store for iPhones and Google Play for Androids. Microsoft also has a role with its Xbox Game Pass, offering a bunch of games for mobile play. 

More recently: Microsoft teased the idea of a "next-gen store" last year, right after talking about buying Activision Blizzard. This Xbox mobile store would challenge Apple and Google in mobile gaming, using titles from Activision Blizzard, like Call of Duty: Mobile, and Candy Crush Saga, made by game developer King.

The development: Microsoft Xbox chief Phil Spencer just announced big plans for moving ahead with this new mobile gaming store. He revealed during an interview at the CCXP comics and entertainment convention in Sao Paulo that the company’s talking to partners to help launch it. Click the link here for more.

Israel expands its Gaza operation

Israel Gaza Palestine
A convoy of tanks maneuvers near Israel's border with southern Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Israel, December 4, 2023. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

The backstory: The Gaza Strip isn’t that big – just about 40 kilometers (25 miles) long, but over 2 million Palestinians live there. As Israel has launched airstrikes at Gaza and began its ground offensive into the territory, Israeli authorities pushed for civilians to evacuate to the south, saying that Hamas’s operations were based up north. Many civilians did end up vacating their homes and finding shelter at the other end of the strip.

More recently: At this point, Israel controls most of northern Gaza. The city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza became a place of refuge for Gazans during this time, and it’s where tens of thousands of people went for safety over the past few weeks.

The development: On Monday, Israel began calling for people in parts of southern Gaza to evacuate again. Israel says that Hamas also has some of its operations based in southern Gaza, and it’s planning a ground invasion into the south. Officials say that some Hamas fighters also went south when Israel called for civilians to move in that direction. The current mass evacuations are starting in Khan Younis. Click the link here for more.

CoreWeave hits US$7 billion mark

CoreWeave Nvidia
A view of a Nvidia logo at their headquarters in Taipei, Taiwan May 31, 2023. REUTERS/Ann Wang/File Photo

The backstory: CoreWeave is a rising player in cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI). The company specializes in graphics processing unit (GPU) solutions in quick AI, machine learning and data analytics. Backed by tech giant Nvidia, CoreWeave took an early lead by adopting Nvidia's graphics chips for data centers, foreseeing the surge in demand for powerful processors in AI applications.

More recently: This year, CoreWeave is thriving, securing US$421 million in equity. In August, it sealed a US$2.3 billion debt financing deal (using Nvidia’s H100 chips as collateral), with Magnetar Capital and Blackstone leading and support from others like Coatue, DigitalBridge Credit, BlackRock, PIMCO and Carlyle. The company, previously known for ethereum mining, is reportedly expected to rake in around US$1.5 billion in revenue by 2024.

The development: CoreWeave has said it’s closed a deal selling a minority stake to some major players – including Fidelity Management & Research Co., Investment Management Corp. of Ontario, Jane Street, JPMorgan Asset Management, Nat Friedman, Daniel Gross, Goanna Capital and Zoom Ventures. This move, according to insiders, pushed the company’s value up to US$7 billion. Click the link here for more.

To end, we'll look into:

IBM’s Quantum System Two

IBM Quantum System Two
International Business Machines’ (IBM) Quantum System Two computer containing three "Heron" processors is seen in this undated handout photo. Courtesy of International Business Machines/Handout via REUTERS

You’ve probably heard of a quantum computer before, but you may not know what it actually is. Or, what it is in theory – because general-purpose quantum computers don’t exist yet, and the quantum computers that are around are in their very early stages of development. 

Basically, a quantum computer processes information using quantum mechanics. It uses quantum bits, or qubits (CUE-bits), to “compute.” For some context, the computers that we already have process information through classical bits which can represent either 0 or 1. A qubit is a designation based on quantum mechanics that can run multidimensional quantum algorithms. So it can be “in a superposition of one and zero simultaneously until its state is measured.” Think Schrödinger's cat. 

IBM just made a huge step toward advancing quantum computers. On Monday, the company showed the world its newest quantum computing chip, the IBM Quantum Heron, and machine that could be a key toward designing a large quantum system in the near future. Click the link here for more.

In other news ...


📉Market snapshot and key quotes:

  • In the US: US stocks closed lower on Monday, raising questions about the market's recent winning streak. 
  • In Hong Kong: Hong Kong stocks dipped on Monday despite positive vibes from Wall Street and talk of potential Fed interest rate cuts next year.

📊Top gainers/losers and company news:

  • In the US: Alaska Airlines lost more than 14% after acquiring Hawaiian Airlines for US$1.9 billion as part of its West Coast expansion strategy.
  • Coinbase surged over 5% after bitcoin topped US$40,000 for the first time this year. 
  • In Hong Kong: Evergrande Group jumped over 9% after its court hearing on liquidation was pushed to next January.

👀The numbers everyone is watching:

  • In the US: Key economic data this week includes US ISM Services, wholesale inventories and the US jobs report.
  • In Hong Kong: China is releasing crucial data, including the China Caixin services PMI and trade figures, keeping the global market's attention.

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

More headlines ...

📰Israel/Palestine update:  Last week, reports were released showing that Israel may have known about Hamas's plans to attack over a year before the militant group did but dismissed that intelligence. Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu was supposed to go through a corruption trial, but this process was postponed after the October 7 attacks. Now, the trial is resuming, even as the conflict is ongoing; he's accused of breach of trust, accepting bribes and fraud. While many Western countries are aiding Israel, a Dutch court is currently hearing a case brought forward by human rights orgs to stop the Netherlands from handing over F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel, arguing that the Netherlands could be complicit of possible war crimes for helping Israel's military campaign. And, within 24 hours of Israel restarting its attacks on the Gaza Strip, over 700 people died, according to Gaza officials.  

🌍COP28 updates:  COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber is defending himself after he said there's "no science" behind the need to cut fossil fuels to limit climate change. On Monday, he said that he never said what a video reportedly shows him saying and that people saying he did are trying to tear down his COP28 position. On Monday, the UK announced that the G7+ bloc and Ukraine have put together a clean energy partnership as they work to reconstruct Ukraine's energy structure that's been damaged in the war with Russia. Bill Gates also said on Monday that the world isn't likely to limit global warming to 2 C above preindustrial temperatures.

🛳️Red Sea attacks: Iran-backed Yemeni Houthi rebels have been attacking what they believe are Israel-linked commercial ships in the Red Sea since the fighting began in Palestine and Israel. In the latest turn of events, a US Navy destroyer has gotten involved, shooting down drones that were targeting commercial ships on Sunday.  

🌋Volcano erupts in Indonesia: Indonesia's Mount Marapi volcano erupted over the weekend. There were about 75 hikers in the area, and most of them were evacuated to safety. Unfortunately, at least 11 hikers died in the eruption, and their bodies were found near the crater. There are still others missing.

Mount Marapi volcano
Indonesia rescue team evacuate a victim of the eruption of Mount Marapi in Agam, West Sumatra province, Indonesia, December 4, 2023, in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Iggoy el Fitra/via REUTERS

💬China and US South China Sea dispute: Tensions over territorial claims to different areas of the South China Sea have been heating up this year. On Monday, China said that a US warship had illegally entered Chinese territory in the waters by crossing an area claimed by a few different countries. The US responded that the ship was "conducting routine operations in international waters." 

💼Putin will visit the Middle East: Russian President Vladimir Putin has kept his international travel plans to a minimum since the Ukraine invasion. But, according to some insiders, he will be visiting the UAE and Saudi Arabia this week and meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Russia are all members of OPEC+, so oil talks are expected to be on the agenda, as well as the Middle East conflict and the Russian chairmanship of BRICS.

📩Venezuela votes on territory claim: Yesterday, we covered a referendum held by Venezuela over whether or not to claim the oil-rich Essequibo territory that's currently governed by Guyana and makes up about two-thirds of its territory. The referendum was held on Sunday and passed, with most Venezuelans voting yes. It's not clear exactly what will happen from here.

🥶Siberia temps reach record low: 2023 is on track to become the warmest year on record overall, but climate change doesn't just result in abnormal heating – it can also cause abnormally cold temperatures in some parts of the world. On Monday, Siberia reached its coldest temperatures on record, hitting -56 C as blizzards hit the region.

🎵Spotify announces layoffs: Tech layoffs seem to have slowed down in the second half of the year, but we're still seeing new job cuts all over the sector. In its third round of layoffs this year, Spotify is letting around 1,500 employees go – 17% of its labor force.

🪙Bitcoin hits a 2023 high: The value of bitcoin isn't nearly what it once was – worth over US$68,000 at its height in 2021. But recently, companies linked to bitcoin have been rallying, and there's the hope of interest cuts from the US Fed. So, the digital token has reached its highest value in 20 months at around US$42,000.

🤑Zuck cashes out: Meta has surged 172% this year through the end of November, beating out every other big US tech company other than Nvidia. According to regulatory filings, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has sold some of his Meta shares for the first time in two years. Zuck's trust and entities for his charitable and political giving unloaded about 682,000 shares worth almost US$185 million last month. Zuck and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have promised to give 99% of their wealth to philanthropic causes, and more than half of these sales came from shares managed by their foundation.

👩‍⚖️Evergrande catches a restructuring break: Once China's biggest property developer, Evergrande, has defaulted on some major loans as China's property sector struggles, and it's being forced to restructure its debt. It was expected to have to liquidate following a bankruptcy hearing on Monday. But, the company caught a break and was offered two more months to work out a deal with investors after the primary petitioner of the lawsuit changed their position and decided to no longer actively seek liquidation.

🐼UK pandas come home: Since 2011, female panda Tian Tian ("Sweetie") and male Yang Guang ("Sunshine") have been living at the Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland, with the hopes that the pair would have some cubs together. Unfortunately, they never conceived, and their time in the UK has ended after 12 years. They left the city for China on Monday, and they'll be rehomed at a sanctuary in Chengdu in Sichuan province after a period of quarantine.

Pandas Edinburgh Zoo
Yang Guang, one of the giant pandas at Edinburgh Zoo, eats bamboo stalks in its enclosure, in Edinburgh, Britain, November 29, 2023. REUTERS/Lesley Martin TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

📕Word of the Year: Oxford University Press, the world's second-oldest academic press and the publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary, has decided on its "Word of the Year" for 2023. The winner? "Rizz." For those not in the know, this Gen-Z slang is short for "charisma" and means "style, charm or attractiveness" or "the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner." The term originated in 2022 with YouTuber and Twitch streamer Kai Cenat, and it went viral after actor Tom Holland said, "I have no rizz whatsoever. I have limited rizz," in an interview with Buzzfeed. We're gonna have to disagree with you there, Tom. 

🥢WTF did I just read?: So in one of the more bizarre stories we've come across this year, a Vietnamese man discovered a pair of chopsticks were causing him intense headaches, as they were lodged in his … BRAIN. The 35-year-old told doctors at the Cuba Friendship Hospital in Dong Hoi, Vietnam, that he'd been having massive headaches, fluid loss and fluid discharge for around five months, so they decided to run some CT scans to see what was up. It turns out a pair of chopsticks had gone up his nose and into his brain. You'd think you'd be aware something like that had happened to you – but apparently, the man vaguely recalled getting into a drunken fight sometime around when his symptoms started, during which he was stabbed in the face with something he couldn't quite remember. The docs did an endoscopic surgery on the man and successfully removed the chopsticks through his nose.

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