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Nova Khakovka Dam Destroyed in Kherson, Ukraine

The vast Ukrainian Nova Khakovka Dam has been destroyed in the Russian occupied region of Kherson, Ukraine releasing a torrent of water as concerns for residents and nuclear power facilities up and downstream grows.

According to the BBC, the exact details of how the dam came to be destroyed are still unclear with the Ukrainian military accusing Russia of blowing it up. Here, Kyiv are claiming that Russia have destroyed the dam in order to slow down the Ukrainian counter-offensive. While the details of this Ukrainian counter-offensive are also unclear, the last few days has seen activity mount in places such as Bakhmut and the provinces of Donetsk and Zaporizhia.

Authorities have told people as much as 50 miles away to evacuate the area with the governor of the region saying that at least 16,000 people are at risk from the floodwaters.

The dam, which creates a reservoir holing back the Dnipro is critical for drinking water and industry and is also used as a means of cooling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power facility, which lies 100miles upstream. The facility in Zaporizhzhia is currently under occupation has in effect been turned into a military base. With UN U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres saying that “any potential damage to Zaporizhzhia is suicide” the stakes are overwhelmingly high, as news from the region continues to develop.

Apple Vision Pro

Apple are hoping that they’re going to change the way we interact with the world via technology, again. Last night’s Worldwide Developer Conference saw the unveiling of Apple Vision Pro, Apple’s first ‘Spatial computer’ –  a headset that ‘augments reality’, allowing users to immerse themselves in work projects, photos, audio and video. The product was amazingly well received on the unveiling, until the price was announced! At $3,500 this is more than three times the cost of Meta’s VR headset – which is the closest proxy, despite being a very different proposition – the news of the price was enough to take the wow factor out of the share price sails and in after hours trading they’ve lost 2.5% from their all-time high (still, with a market cap above $2.8trillion and $55bn cash at hand, Tim Cook won’t be losing too much sleep). If you get a few minutes to have a read/watch of the Apple press release, it’s a fascinating insight into what the future of computing might look like. www.apple.com/newsroom/2023/06/introducing-apple-vision-pro/

Rise in Food Prices are Deterring Consumers from Discretionary Spending, Says BRC

The British Retail Consortium’s retail sales index has slipped to 3.7% over May from 5.2% in April. The BRC maintain that persistently high food inflation is showing little sign of easing, which is putting consumers off discretionary spending.

This comes as the UK Barclaycard Consumer Spending index indicated that grocery spending rose 8.9% on an annualised basis, marking the highest print since February 2021 when the index surged to 27%. One Barclay’s economist said that “although the latest headline figures show that inflation has fallen due to lower energy prices, the prices of core services and goods remain stubbornly high and continue to constrain real household disposable income and spending,”

 

France Pushes Back Against Plans for NATO Outpost in Japan

The French president Emmanuel Macron argued against proposals for NATO to establish an office in Japan, maintaining that the organisation should be focused on its namesake, the North Atlantic. Recent diplomatic tensions in the Indo-Pacific region have led to some within NATO pushing for an outpost in Japan, with the country being strategically important geo-political tensions grow around China, North Korea and Taiwan.

The prospect of such an outpost has of course angered Beijing. Hence, according to one French official cited by the FT, France are keen to maintain a amicable relationship with China as they with the former trying to persuade the latter not to supply Russia with weapons.  As such, Paris is trying to avoid anything that could exacerbate Nato-China tensions with Macron arguing that “If…we push Nato to enlarge the spectrum and the geography, we will make a big mistake.”

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