From the first private moon landing to a ban on elephant adoptions – Here are today's Headlines

Intuitive Machines is a Houston-based company that started in 2013.

From the first private moon landing to a ban on elephant adoptions – Here are today's Headlines
Intuitive Machines' Odysseus spacecraft passes over the near side of the Moon following lunar orbit insertion on February 21, 2024, in this handout image released February 22, 2024. Intuitive Machines/Handout via REUTERS

To start off, we're looking into:

The very first private moon landing

The backstory: Intuitive Machines is a Houston-based company that started in 2013. And a year ago, the company made waves by going public. But the real rollercoaster started more recently. In January, its stock took a nosedive, only to shoot back up, more than tripling in value. Why the sudden surge? Financial experts are pointing fingers at Intuitive Machines' IM-1 mission, the startup's first mission to the moon. Intuitive Machines has set out 16 milestones for IM-1, with a successful lunar landing as the ultimate goal.

The Nova-C lander, also known as "Odysseus," took off last week from Florida atop SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket. It's carrying a payload of 12 items, including six for NASA under a US$118 million contract. Though this mission is Intuitive Machines' brainchild, it falls under NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program.

The development: Intuitive Machines hit a major milestone last week with the successful landing of the IM-1 mission on the lunar surface. This marks the first American lunar landing since the Apollo era, as the Nova-C cargo lander, affectionately called "Odysseus," is the first US spacecraft to make it to the moon's surface since 1972. Click the link here for more.

All about Reddit’s IPO

Reddit IPO
Reddit logo is seen in this illustration taken November 7, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

The backstory: Reddit, founded almost 20 years ago by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, kicked off as a platform where users could dive into all sorts of content based on what others shared and upvoted. Over time, it became a massive social media hub where discussions, news and entertainment thrive. 

More recently: Despite its popularity, Reddit has had its fair share of financial ups and downs. In 2023, it saw a US$90.8 million loss despite raking in US$804 million in revenue, although that was better compared to a US$158.6 million loss the year before with US$666.7 million in revenue.

The development: Reddit has officially filed for an initial public offering (IPO) on the US stock market. This move has been in the works for over two years, and it's expected to be one of the year's biggest IPOs. Click the link here for more.

Multinational companies choose Singapore

Singapore business
People take pictures of the city skyline lit up by drones during a performance to welcome the Lunar New Year of the Dragon, at Marina Bay in Singapore February 10, 2024. REUTERS/Edgar Su

The backstory: Singapore and Hong Kong have competed for many years to attract multinational companies and lead as one of Asia’s top financial and business hubs. But with challenges like COVID, geopolitical tensions and talent shortages, the lead position has been gradually shifting. 

In 2020, the Singaporean government introduced a new type of legal framework called Variable Capital Companies (VCC), which provides tax and legal incentives for hedge funds, venture capital and private equity firms to set up shop in the city-state. More than 600 companies took advantage of the program in 2022.

On the other hand, Hong Kong has maintained the lead as a trading center and base for global banks to gain access to business in China, the world’s second-largest economy. And although Singapore shares first place with Zurich, Switzerland, and New York City as the world’s most expensive city to live in, Hong Kong is a great option for finance employees because they’re typically paid more than those in Singapore.

The development: According to a Bloomberg Intelligence report published on Wednesday, Singapore has now surpassed Hong Kong as Asia’s premier business location. In 2023, 4,200 multinational firms had their regional headquarters in Singapore, while Hong Kong only had 1,336. Click the link here for more.

To end, we'll look into:

How green really is Lululemon?

Lululemon sustainability
The logo for Lululemon Athletica is seen at a store in Manhattan, New York, U.S., December 7, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

Canadian-American athleisure brand Lululemon was established in 1998 and is now a global name particularly popular in the yoga community. Lululemon is known for touting its efforts toward sustainable fashion, with an ethos of "Be human. Be well. Be planet." But lately, it's been facing some public pressure about its commitment to climate change. Some say the company's supply chain is problematic, and its image is really all a big dose of greenwashing.

The thing is, many of Lululemon's suppliers in places like Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Cambodia still run their factories on coal. On top of that, a lot of the merch is made from polyester, which comes from petroleum. So, since January, more than 7,000 yoga instructors and students across more than 30 countries have signed a petition circulated by and Actions Speak Louder calling for Lululemon to convert its supply chain to 100% renewable energy.

Then, earlier this month, filed a complaint with Canada's competition regulator to investigate Lululemon's alleged greenwashing. The complaint said that even though the yoga-wear company said it would work to reduce its emissions, a 2022 impact report showed its indirect emissions actually increased that year. Click the link here for more.

In other news ...

📰Russia/Ukraine update: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's body has been released to his mother over a week after he died in an Arctic penal colony, his spokesperson has said. Navalny's mother has said that the Kremlin was "blackmailing her" into having a secret funeral for her son without a public service, but she's refused. No funeral details are available yet, and Navalny's mother has said they aren't sure if Russian officials will interfere with a funeral for Navalny. Navalny's wife, Yulia Navalnaya, has also stepped up to become the face of the Russian opposition, taking her husband's place. 

Meanwhile, the US has issued hundreds of new sanctions on Russia targeting exports to the country, its financial sector, defense industrial base, procurement networks, sanctions evaders across several continents and individuals associated with Navalny's death. The UK's PM Rishi Sunak is also calling on Western nations and the G7 to seize Russia's frozen assets and give the money to Ukraine. 

As the war hit its second anniversary, Ukraine's President Volodymyr ZelenskIy commemorated the day in public with four Western leaders at his side. He also announced on Sunday that 31,000 soldiers had been killed in the nation since the start of the war. The UK and other NATO allies are also being urged to consider conscription in the wake of Russia's war on Ukraine. 

🗞️Middle East update: Since November, the Yemen-based Houthis have been attacking ships in the Red Sea in support of Palestinians in the Israel-Hamas war. It's caused major disruptions to this global shipping route. In its fourth joint attack against the Houthis, the US and the UK attacked around 18 of the group's sites across multiple locations, targeting missiles, launchers, rockets, drones and unmanned surface and underwater vehicles, according to US officials. 

Talks of a ceasefire took place on Saturday night in Paris and are due to continue in Doha this week. White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan said an understanding of the "basic contours" of a hostage deal and temporary ceasefire had been reached. Meanwhile, protests broke out over the weekend in Tel Aviv, with demonstrators calling on Israel's PM Benjamin Netanyahu to resign.

👩‍⚖️Germany legalizes cannabis: On Friday, the German Parliament approved the legalization of cannabis across the country in an effort "to crack down on the black market and [improve] protection of children and young people," said Health Minister Karl Lauterbach.

🚜Farmer protests in France: Over the last month, farmers across Europe have been protesting against a range of agricultural policies and other labor issues. On Saturday, French President Emmanuel Macron was met by hundreds of angry farmers at an annual agricultural fair, where they had a clash with the riot police. 

🤑Trump pays the price: A recent fraud case against former US President Donald Trump, two of his sons and other associates of the Trump real estate empire has been settled. Trump is facing a final judgment of nearly US$455 million with a post-judgment interest daily rate of 9% per annum for all defendants, including nearly US$112,000 for Trump alone.

📹Hong Kong security cameras: Hong Kong officials have said they have plans to install more CCTV cameras in public areas with high crime rates and pedestrian flows to boost public safety. Police will install 15 sets of cameras in Hong Kong's Mong Kok district next month. Police also said they're considering using an artificial intelligence (AI) surveillance system.

🤖Tech giants invest in robots: Figure AI is a startup focusing on developing human-like robots that can do things like perform jobs too dangerous for people and help relieve labor shortages. Big tech names like Jeff Bezos, Nvidia, OpenAI and Microsoft are investing in the startup in a US$675 million funding round, according to insiders speaking with Bloomberg.

🎤Taylor's tix suspended: Consumer marketplace Carousell has suspended sales of tickets to Taylor Swift's upcoming concerts in Singapore through March 9 to avoid a rise in scams. This will apply to platforms in Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan.

⚽China cancels friendlies: Argentina was scheduled to play friendly matches in China's Hangzhou and Beijing next month, but the country canceled the matches after the fallout from Lionel Messi's failure to come off the bench during Inter Miami's Hong Kong match earlier this month. Argentina will now play those matches in the US.

👗Dior postpones show in Hong Kong: Hong Kong has been trying to increase the number of major events hosted in the city to boost its economy. But now, luxury fashion house Christian Dior has postponed "indefinitely" its Hong Kong fashion show, which was supposed to take place next month. No reason has officially been given for the event's delay.

📺Disney-Reliance merger: People speaking to Bloomberg have said that Walt Disney and Reliance Industries have signed a binding pact to merge their media operations in India. The insiders said that the media unit of Reliance and its affiliates are expected to own at least 61% of the new entity, with Disney holding the rest. More details should be announced this week. 

🚀China's new spaceship: The China Manned Space Agency announced the name of its new spaceship and moon lander on Saturday, with a goal to send astronauts to the moon before 2030. The spacecraft, named Mengzhou (meaning "dream vessel" in Chinese) and the moon lander, Lanyue ("embracing the moon"), are in the sample stages of development, according to the agency. 

🥤Wahaha beverages founder dies: Billionaire and founder of Chinese beverage giant Wahaha, Zong Qinghou, died on Sunday morning after "treatment for an illness proved ineffective," the company said on its Weibo social media account. Once China's richest person, Zong founded Wahaha in 1989 and built it into a drinks giant whose beverages are now found in shops across China. 

🚌Hong Kong's hydrogen bus: Hong Kong's first double-decker hydrogen bus made its first journey on Sunday along Citybus' route 20 from Kai Tak to Cheung Sha Wan. The trip took about the same time as a standard bus, 40 minutes, but the only emissions were water vapors. 

🌵New lake in Death Valley: Death Valley, a desert in California thought to be the hottest place on Earth and the driest place in the US, has seen an ancient lake reemerge following extreme rain, and it seems like it's here to stay. Badwater Basin refilled itself back in 2005 but dried up a week later. Experts thought it would last from August to February this year, but recent rains suggest it will stick around even longer.

🐘Leave the elephants alone: Bangladesh was once a major home for Asian elephants, and adopting wild elephants was a big practice. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says there are nearly 100 captive Asian elephants in Bangladesh, which is almost half the wild population. A court ruled on Sunday to ban the adoption of wild elephants in the country, which animal activists are saying is a landmark ruling that will prevent animal cruelty.

Quiz Time!

What country has surpassed Hong Kong as Asia’s premier business location, according to a recent report?

  1. Singapore
  2. Indonesia
  3. Japan
  4. Thailand

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Written and put together by Joey Fung, Alisha Khan and Christine Dulion

**The answer to the quiz is [1]