From rumors of a Hollywood merger to space getting festive – Here are today's Headlines

It's no secret that traditional cable TV has lost its spark and the streaming revolution is in full swing.

From rumors of a Hollywood merger to space getting festive – Here are today's Headlines
Toy figures of people are seen in front of the displayed Paramount + logo, in this illustration taken January 20, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo/File Photo

To start off, we're looking into:

Hollywood's big merger buzz

The backstory: It's no secret that traditional cable TV has lost its spark and the streaming revolution is in full swing. In 2022, AT&T's WarnerMedia and Discovery merged to create a powerhouse in media – what we now know as Warner Bros. Discovery, a blend of media channels and legendary franchises like “Batman” and “Harry Potter.” Meanwhile, Paramount Global, known for the “Mission Impossible” films and CBS News, has been grappling with growing debt from its streaming endeavors.

The development: Recent reports have hinted at potential talks between Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount Global regarding a merger. If it happened, this deal would combine Warner Bros. Discovery's HBO and CNN with Paramount’s franchises, CBS News network and other channels. It would also bring together two of the “Big Five” studios in Hollywood. Their combined estimated market value would be around US$38 billion. CEO David Zaslav from Warner and President and CEO Bob Bakish from Paramount chatted about merging over lunch in New York, according to Axios. They reportedly talked about how joining their main streaming services, Paramount+ and Max (formerly HBO Max) could help them better compete with Netflix and Disney+. Click the link here for more.

Xiaomi bets big on EVs

Lei Jun Xiaomi
Xiaomi founder and CEO Lei Jun attends a launch ceremony of the new flagship phone Xiaomi Mi 9 in Beijing, China February 20, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee

The backstory: Lei Jun, the driving force behind Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi, co-founded the company in 2010, creating a buzz with the brand’s affordable smartphones. Over time, Xiaomi became the world's third-largest smartphone vendor, according to research firm IDC, while also expanding into smart home gadgets and wearables. Lei's strategic vision has also led Xiaomi into other territories. In 2021, he initiated Xiaomi's venture into the electric vehicle (EV) market, calling it the “last major entrepreneurial project” of his life. This year, Xiaomi revealed its new car models, the SU7, SU7 Pro and SU7 Max, sparking excitement in the market.

The development: During a recent chat with China's state broadcaster, Lei said that Xiaomi had poured over 10 billion yuan (US$1.4 billion) and rallied a team of 3,400 engineers to cook up its first lineup of EVs. The 54-year-old entrepreneur shared that he drew inspiration from the legendary Steve Jobs, and he was ready to bring the cars to the market. Click the link here for more.

The AI death calculator

artificial intelligence
Words reading "Artificial intelligence AI", miniature of robot and toy hand are pictured in this illustration taken December 14, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The backstory: Yesterday, we explained how artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to prompt end-of-life care by giving an idea of when a terminally ill patient is reaching the end of their natural life. It makes sense that we might also want to see if AI could predict when we’ll die in general. Humans have been trying to accurately predict this kind of thing for ages. For instance, life insurance companies use algorithms to get an idea of someone’s life expectancy for the sake of pricing all the time. There are existing transformer AI systems that have tried to more accurately pinpoint life expectancy and events. But the science has been a little shaky, and this earlier form of input-output AI isn’t accurate enough to really be depended on. 

The development: Researchers at the Technical University of Denmark just published a study exploring how generative AI large language models (LLMs) (think ChatGPT) can be used to better predict human life sequences. The system is called life2vec. Click the link here for more.

To end, we'll look into:

The controversy of rewilding

Source: Pexels/Patrice Schoefolt

Rewilding is the general concept of returning a species to its former natural habitat after it artificially disappeared – like if humans endangered them from the area. It’s a major tenet of conservation biology. Reintroduction is the specific process of moving a species back to its lost natural habitat. The idea is to eventually restore an ecosystem to the way it was before, reestablishing balance and biodiversity. 

Some major, successful rewilding projects include the reintroduction of blue wildebeests to the Serengeti in Tanzania (which led to the control of overpopulated plants), water buffalo in different regions of eastern Europe and muskoxen in the Arctic. 

On the surface, the reintroduction of these species might seem like a no-brainer, but it can actually be a lot more controversial and risky than it seems. Click the link here for more.

In other news ...


📉Market snapshot and key quotes:

  • In the US: US stocks closed higher on Thursday, recovering from the previous day's slump and resuming the year-end rally. 
  • In Hong Kong: Hong Kong stocks rose slightly on Thursday as traders took a pause from the global market rally driven by expected US interest rate cuts next year.

📊Top gainers/losers and company news:

  • In the US: Micron Technology soared by 8.7% after reporting quarterly results and guidance that surpassed expectations. 
  • Salesforce jumped 2.7% following an upgrade from Morgan Stanley.
  • In Hong Kong: Chinese EV maker Li Auto slumped by 4.9%, while Chinese sportswear maker Li Ning gained 3%. Smartphone maker Xiaomi saw a slight dip, losing 1%

👀The numbers everyone is watching:

  • In the US: The third reading of real GDP came in lower than expected, with a 4.9% increased annual rate in the third quarter, down from the second estimate issued last month, which showed a 5.2% rise.

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

More headlines ...

📰Israel/Palestine update: Human rights groups are distressed by civilian conditions in Gaza, with about one in every 115 Gazans killed (about 20,000 deaths), according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has reported that around 70% of Gaza homes have been damaged or destroyed. On Wednesday, Israel said it found a network of Hamas tunnels running under central Gaza City from properties held by Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and other senior Hamas officials involved in the October 7 attacks. In the UN Security Council, the US says it still has "concerns" about a draft resolution calling for "urgent humanitarian pauses" in Gaza, asking for another delay for a vote on the resolution. It wants to negotiate the wording of a section calling for UN aid monitoring, worried that the outlined process doesn't give Israel enough screening oversight. 

💔Shooting in Prague: On Thursday, police said a student from Charles University in Prague opened gunfire on students in the philosophy building. The suspect killed at least 14 people and injured over 20 more. This appears to be the Czech Republic's worst mass shooting in history. The suspect's name hasn't been released, but police confirmed that he also died.

🌏Chinese earthquake aftermath: Overnight on Monday, northwestern China experienced a devastating earthquake that killed at least 137 people and left over 900 injured. Twelve people are still missing in the province of Qinghai, but none have been reported missing in Gansu. With hundreds of thousands of homes damaged or collapsed, the government is setting up hundreds of temporary one-room housing units so those affected can shelter from the winter conditions.

🗣️Hungary clashes with the EU: Hungary's PM Viktor Orbán has been in a long-term conflict with the EU (which Hungary is a part of) because the bloc has frozen billions of EU funds for Hungary over worries that the country isn't upholding human rights and the rule of law within its borders. Orbán is now saying that freezing this money is "blackmail." He also said on Thursday that EU funding to Ukraine shouldn't come from the EU's budget and that a "sensible" timeline needs to be planned for Ukraine financing. 

📩India votes on bills with 141 MPs suspended: Many of India's opposition leaders have accused the ruling BJP party of helping protesters access Parliament's chambers last week, which led to chaos as they set off smoke canisters. Opposition legislators then protested this incident on the chamber floor, which led to 141 being suspended for "serious misconduct" – the most simultaneous suspensions in the country's history. Parliament is still voting on bills and other legislation, even without these MPs, which has caused more political controversy.

💬US-China military dialogue: For the first time since August of 2022, the US and China have had military talks. Air Force General CQ Brown, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke with his Chinese counterpart General Liu Zhenli via videoconference on Thursday in a major step toward restoring military dialogue between the two nations. The US Pentagon said they "discussed the importance of working together to responsibly manage competition, avoid miscalculations and maintain open and direct lines of communication." 

👨‍⚖️Brianna Ghey killers convicted at trial: In February this year, news quickly spread all over the world about the death of a 16-year-old transgender girl named Brianna Ghey, who was brutally stabbed 28 times by two of her peers in Manchester, England. The 18-day trial of both unnamed suspects, a boy and a girl, both 16, just wrapped up. On Wednesday, the two were found guilty of murder, with their messages back and forth before the incident showing that they had planned the entire thing long beforehand. Rest in peace, Brianna.

🥶China's cold snap breaks records: Temperatures across China have only gotten lower all week, falling even more on Thursday. Shanghai is now set to have its coldest period in December in 40 years, with temps staying below zero. The national weather office reported that more than 20 weather stations recorded all-time low December temperatures early Thursday morning, from Inner Mongolia to the city of Datong. In Hong Kong, temps are expected to fall to around 8 C (46 F) on Friday.

China winter
People wearing down jackets take pictures on the Bund on a cold winter day in Shanghai, China December 21, 2023. REUTERS/Nicoco Chan

🌋Effin' tourists: On Monday night, a volcano in Iceland erupted, thankfully in an expected way and without any injuries or casualties. Since then, Icelandic officials have had to warn tourists not to get close to the ongoing event. On Tuesday, one traveler had to be rescued just a few miles from the volcano after veering too close to see the action. It looks like there's no more new activity at the volcano, but it's still considered an active site and unsafe. 

Iceland volcano
A drone picture shows lava spewing from the site of the volcanic eruption north of Grindavik, Iceland, December 20, 2023. REUTERS/Marko Djurica TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

👋Angola exits OPEC: OPEC has been cutting oil supply regularly over the past few months to boost pricing. But, recently, member Angola has said that its place in OPEC isn't beneficial to it as a country anymore. On Thursday, Angola announced it would be leaving the organization.

📱Beeper gives up on iMessage: The Beeper app is popular among Android users, as it adapts Android software so that users can access iMessage, which is currently only available on Apple devices. On Thursday, Beeper announced that it's moving on from developing workarounds to crack iMessage and will instead put its resources toward a "long-term goal of building the best chat app on earth."

🎄"Christmas Tree Cluster": NGC 2264 is a formation of baby stars about 2,500 light-years from Earth. It's sometimes called the "Christmas Tree Cluster," because the stars are encased in a triangular green nebula, making the whole thing look like a Christmas tree decorated with lights. NASA just released new images of the cluster captured by its space telescopes. All is certainly bright. 


Quiz Time!

How much money did Xiaomi’s CEO Lei Jun say the company has invested in its EV lineup?

  1. Over 5 billion yuan
  2. Over 10 billion yuan
  3. Around 12 billion yuan

Editor's note: This year has been quite a whirlwind! We here at TMS have done our absolute best to keep you plugged in and part of the conversation. If you'd like to share feedback with us about what you like about our coverage or what you think we could do better, drop us a line at

Our team will be taking a break over the next two weeks to enjoy this cooler weather, spend some time with our families and friends and take in the best of this season. But we'll be back in action with our daily news coverage and weekend Human Stories from January 8, 2024. We want to wish all of our readers happy holidays and an amazing New Year!


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

**The answer to the quiz is [2]