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Here’s what you need to know
Parts of a Chinese spacecraft broke up worryingly close to land. The Long March 5B rocket was supposed to mostly disintegrate during its uncontrolled re-entry into the atmosphere and then fall into the ocean.
Russia’s Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Sevastopol was attacked by a drone. The attack on the Crimean facility wounded at least six people and led to the cancellation of festivities planned there for Russia’s national Navy Day holiday.
Joe Biden has tested positive for covid again. The US president is experiencing what many others have after completing the standard course of Paxlovid: a “rebound.”
Lufthansa pilots have authorized a strike in a fight for better pay. The aviators may not actually walk off the job, but the industry is already experiencing problems that have been exacerbated by staff shortages around the world.
Indonesia banned Yahoo, Steam, Epic, and PayPal before giving a temporary reprieve. The country blocked access to companies that haven’t registered with the government’s scheme to access private user data, but granted a five-day extension to PayPal so that people could withdraw their money and find other services.
Nancy Pelosi could still go to Taiwan. The third-highest ranking US official has begun a tour of Asia focused on “mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance,” which has prompted warnings from the Chinese government and military officials to stay away from the island.
Fidel Ramos has died. The former president of the Philippines built his career in the military of Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s dictatorship, but broke with the regime and helped lead the uprising that brought democracy back to the nation before being elected to lead.
What to watch for
Activision Blizzard releases its second quarter financial results on Monday, ahead of its $68.7 billion acquisition by Microsoft, which is expected to close sometime in the first half of 2023.
Listen for updates on the UK government’s investigation into the deal (which has framed it as potentially anticompetitive) and the US government’s concerns about its impact on workers (specifically with regard to non-compete clauses and nondisclosure agreements). The union representing Activision Blizzard workers voted to approve the merger. That has made the deal’s completion appear more likely.
In November when staff walked out over the handling of sexual misconduct allegations at the company. There have now been five walkouts in the past year over various issues.
Microsoft’s purchase will be the biggest in gaming history. But even if the deal can clear regulatory scrutiny, the passionate, vocal, and active staff might not make integrating culture and day-to-day management easy.
Real awards for virtual performances
Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, BTS, Charli XCX, Blackpink, and Twenty One Pilots have been nominated for the first Best Metaverse Performance award at the MTV Video Music Awards.
These kinds of virtual performances that allow fans to attend remotely have been trickling onto the internet since before the pandemic, but the first major attention paid to metaverse performances happened in 2020 when Travis Scott performed in Fortnite. Since then, virtual concerts have rapidly become accepted as an additional way to reach and perform for fans.
And while virtual celebrities like Japan’s Hatsune Miku have been gaining popularity for years now, it’s in the gaming industry where virtual characters have evolved to become influencers alongside their human counterparts on social media. These characters, and the new-age puppeteers behind them, are guiding how human pop stars are entering the metaverse.
A different kind of social distancing pod
Outbreaks of monkeypox have been cropping up around the world, and now New York City has declared monkeypox a public health emergency. While much of the public messaging around monkeypox has been directed toward the LGBTQ+ community, it is not a “gay disease.”
Nevertheless, the WHO has asked gay and bisexual men to reduce the number of sexual partners they have, reconsider sex with new partners, and exchange contact information to enable follow-up.
Queer activists have a better idea than that: Sex pods.
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