From a news-AI collab to holding in a sneeze – Here are today's Headlines

Axel Springer and OpenAI have joined forces in a deal for sharing content.

From a news-AI collab to holding in a sneeze – Here are today's Headlines
Sam Altman, CEO of Microsoft-backed OpenAI and ChatGPT creator speaks during a talk at Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, Israel June 5, 2023. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo

To start off, we're looking into:

Axel Springer and OpenAI team up

The backstory: Artificial intelligence (AI) companies like OpenAI need access to lots of data and published material to train their models. But lately, these AI companies have been running into trouble over the data they’ve used, with lawsuits cropping up accusing them of breaching copyright laws and using material without compensating the authors or owners. One way to nip this in the bud would be to partner with publishers to license that material. On top of that, AI models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT would benefit from having access to accurate, recent information – so news publications are great sources of data.

The development: Germany-based global media company Axel Springer, known for publications like Politico, Business Insider, Bild and Welt, is a key player in journalism. Now, Axel Springer and OpenAI have joined forces in a deal for sharing content. It will let ChatGPT summarize news content from Axel Springer's outlets as soon as it's published – meaning breaking news will be a part of the user experience. Click the link here for more.

Tech giants launch CODE

The logo of Meta Platforms' business group is seen in Brussels, Belgium December 6, 2022. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

The backstory: The EU has been making big moves in tech regulation, especially with the Digital Markets Act (DMA). This law says that if an online platform has over 45 million users, it's a "gatekeeper" because it has a lot of control over data and access to these platforms. The DMA sets rules for these gatekeepers, making them follow specific guidelines for allowing interoperability with third parties, promoting competition and innovation and being more transparent about data. So far, big tech players like Google, Meta Platforms, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and ByteDance (TikTok's owner) have been named gatekeepers under the DMA. If a company breaks DMA rules, it could face fines of up to 10% of its total global earnings, going up to 20% for repeated offenses.

The development: Several major tech companies, including Google, Meta Platforms and Qualcomm, have formed the Coalition for Open Digital Ecosystems (CODE) in response to these new EU regulations. CODE's mission is to back open digital ecosystems to support growth and innovation in Europe. They'll collaborate with academics, policymakers and other firms to implement “digital openness” and ensure compliance with the DMA and any future EU rules. Click the link here for more.

Gender-based violence in Afghanistan

Afghanistan women's rights
Taliban soldiers stand guard at the second-anniversary ceremony of the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 15, 2023. REUTERS/Ali Khara/File Photo

The backstory: It’s been over two years since the Taliban took over the government in Afghanistan in August 2021. When the group took over, it promised to protect women’s rights. But, we’ve seen a lot of changes over the last two years. Since the takeover, the 23 state-sponsored women's protection centers meant to help women victims of violence in the country have been shut down. The Taliban told the UN that these centers were unnecessary, Western concepts. This shift is part of a bigger one in Afghanistan limiting the spaces outside of the home that women are allowed to be in. They’ve been banned from school beyond sixth grade, working most jobs and public parks. Beauty salons have also been shut down. Women require a male guardian to travel more than 72 kilometers (45 miles), and they have to follow a strict dress code of being covered head-to-toe.

The development: On Thursday, the UN released a new report from Afghanistan saying that the Taliban is sending women to prison to protect them from violence. Women experiencing violence who don’t have male relatives to live with or only have male relatives deemed “unsafe,” according to the report, are instead sent to prisons if officials are concerned for their safety. Click the link here for more.

To end, we'll look into:

The WHO calls for flavored vape ban

Vape pens stand in a display cabinet at a vape store, in Melbourne, Australia, May 2, 2023. REUTERS/Sandra Sanders//File Photo

Scientists agree that kids and teens should stay away from smoking, and, more recently, vaping. But, e-cigarettes and vapes are still attractive to younger people, partly because of the “fun” flavoring components used to make the vaping experience more enjoyable. While vapes can be found in more traditional cigarette flavors, like menthol, some vape flavors almost seem designed for children/teens to consume. Like “tropical rainbow blast,” “vanilla ice cream” and “blue razz ice,” all offered by vape giant Elfbar. 

“The tobacco industry relentlessly targets young people with tobacco and nicotine products resulting in e-cigarette use increasing and 9 out of 10 smokers starting before the age of 18,” the World Health Organization (WHO) says. 

In September, the WHO advised that all schools ban nicotine and tobacco to protect students. Now, the WHO is taking this idea a step further, calling for tobacco industry-style control measures to be placed on e-cigarettes and vapes. Click the link here for more.

In other news ...


📉Market snapshot and key quotes:

  • In the US: US stocks climbed on good retail sales news and off the back of optimism from the Fed’s indication that it may cut rates next year.
  • In Hong Kong: Hong Kong stocks rose following Wall Street's lead, driven by positive signals from the US Fed.

📊Top gainers/losers and company news:

  • In the US: Adobe dropped over 6% due to an uninspiring 2024 forecast. 
  • Foot Locker gained 10% after a positive upgrade from Piper Sandler.
  • In Hong Kong: Sun Hung Kai Properties surged by 3.4%, Henderson Land by 3.4%, and Country Garden rose over 1%.

👀The numbers everyone is watching:

  • In the US: Retail sales exceeded expectations, rising 0.3% in November, showcasing strong consumer spending during the holiday season.
  • In Hong Kong: This week will see releases on China's 1-year MLF, retail sales, industrial production and the jobless rate.

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

More headlines ...

📰Israel/Palestine update: While the international community has been pushing for Israel and Hamas to meet with negotiators in Qatar to form a new hostage deal, Israel’s war cabinet just blocked a planned visit to Qatar by the head of Israel’s foreign intelligence service that was meant to renew talks. There are now reports that “dozens” of medical workers in Gaza have been arrested and taken by Israeli troops to an unknown location. Disease is spreading rampantly throughout the Strip, with the health system basically collapsed at this point. In the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces have been conducting a three-day raid on the city of Jenin, killing 12 people so far. Meanwhile, the US has urged Israel to scale down its Gaza offensive and focus more on protecting civilians.

🗞️Russia stands strong on Ukraine war: As the West flounders in trying to figure out support for Ukraine, Russia has been running a more successful offensive campaign there. On Thursday, Russian President Putin said that Russia won’t go for peace until it accomplishes its goals. “Victory will be ours,” he said.

🗣️EU grants membership talks to Ukraine: Even though Hungary has been pushing back against moving the needle forward on Ukraine’s bid to join the EU, the bloc approved opening up membership talks with Ukraine on Thursday. Actually becoming a member is still likely years away for the country, but Ukraine’s President Zelenskiy called the progress a “victory for Ukraine.”

🛢️Oil giants shrug off COP28 deal: The COP28 deal that was finally agreed upon mentioned transitioning away from fossil fuels rather than calling for a full “phase-out.” Big Oil is responding without any signs of panic, not really seeing this deal as having any quick impact on the market. 

💼Japan’s cabinet resignations: Japanese PM Fumio Kishida’s Liberal Democratic government is flagging in public support, especially after many of the party’s members were implicated in a recently discovered fundraising embezzlement scandal. There are currently millions of dollars in unreported, missing funds. To start cleaning up the LDP’s image, Kishida seems to be cleaning out his cabinet, with four members resigning so far. 

🩺Turkish MP dies after heart attack in Parliament: Earlier this week, Turkish MP Hasan Bitmez was speaking against Israel in Parliament, saying that it’ll “suffer Allah’s wrath,” when he collapsed due to a heart attack. He was transported to the hospital, where he died two days later.

👩‍⚖️Australian court overturns infamous murder conviction: An Australian woman named Kathleen Folbigg spent 20 years in prison after being convicted of murdering her four children in 2003. A new investigation found that Folbigg’s children actually probably died of natural causes from rare genetic conditions. Her conviction was just officially overturned, and she could receive compensation from the state.

Kathleen Folbigg
Kathleen Folbigg along with Tracy Chapman (L) walk outide the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal in Sydney, Australia December 14, 2023. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts via REUTERS

🥶Chill spreads over China: Northern China is experiencing a cold wave, and temperatures are expected to continue falling to what could end up being record lows. In the south, temps are expected to fall pretty sharply over the next day or so, too.

🤑Amazon wins tax dispute with EU: The EU has been in a yearslong court battle with Amazon over allegedly receiving special treatment from some member countries years ago, saying that the company owed US$270 million in back taxes. But the EU’s Court of Justice just ruled in Amazon’s favor, meaning that it doesn’t owe anything.

💰World’s most expensive cities: The world’s most expensive cities don’t come as any surprise – at least not to the people who live in them. This year, the most expensive cities in the world to live in, according to the Worldwide Cost of Living Index, are Zurich and Singapore (tied for first), then New York and Geneva (tied for third), with Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Paris following in the ranking. 

😋Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants: For the first time, 50 Best’s “Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2024 will be held in Seoul, South Korea. The ceremony will take place on March 26, 2024. 

😱Nightmare material: Have you ever held a sneeze in before? Well, in the first-ever recorded case, documented in the medical journal BMJ Case Reports, a Scottish man tore a hole in his windpipe from trying to hold back a sneeze by pinching his nose closed and clamping his mouth shut. He was in a lot of pain but has since recovered. Doctors are warning to obviously not do this as if both your mouth and nose are closed during a sneeze, the pressure in the upper airways can increase by about 20 times.

Quiz Time!

What news publisher did OpenAI strike a deal with this week for its AI model ChatGPT?

  • Vox Media
  • Associated Press
  • Axel Springer
  • Reuters

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