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Don’t listen to the noise — it’s not ‘mission accomplished’ just yet, Saudi oil minister says



OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia warned oil traders on Friday that a dramatic upswing in crude futures was little reason to become complacent.

Speaking to reporters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the kingdom’s Energy Minister, Khalid al-Falih, told CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick: “We have to be patient. We shouldn’t jump the gun, we shouldn’t be complacent and listen to some of the noise such as ‘mission accomplished’. I think we still have work ahead of us.”

OPEC, Russia and several other allied producers have spearheaded an ongoing effort to try to clear a global supply overhang and prop up prices. The agreement, which came into effect in January 2017, has already been extended through until the end of this year — with producers scheduled to meet in June to review policy.

The initial target of the supply-cutting deal was to reduce industrialized nations’ oil inventories back to their five-year average. Nonetheless, with several major global producers honing in on achieving their original aim, there is little indication from the world’s top exporter that it wishes to wind down the supply cuts.

OPEC and its partners meet in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Friday, with the 14-member oil cartel then set to reconvene on June 22 to review to its oil production policy.

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Singapore’s food tech startups serve up lab-grown milk, ‘fake’ shrimp



Veego, a plant-based protein developed by Life3 Biotech that tastes like chicken.

Courtesy Life3 Biotech

The coronavirus crisis has magnified Singapore‘s food security concerns — an issue made worse by climate change — and the city-state is looking to ramp up its local food production.

Tech entrepreneurs say they want to help. To boost national self-sufficiency, more local start-ups are creating edible products from natural ingredients and cell culture technology.

Some examples include lab-grown milk from TurtleTree Labs, Shiok Meats’ cultured shrimp and Life3 Biotech’s plant-based proteins. Such ventures could benefit Singapore, as they can reduce the island-nation’s import bill as well as its carbon footprint.

Singapore, a tiny country that imports 90% of its food due to land scarcity, is vulnerable to food shortages and price volatility. The situation was exacerbated when Covid-19 first struck and people rushed to stockpile items.

But even before the pandemic, Singapore’s food supply was vulnerable to extreme weather patterns. Its neighbors face a similar predicament. 

“Asia is unable to feed itself, relying on imports flowing through long supply chains from the Americas, Europe and Africa,” audit firm PwC, Rabobank, and Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek warned in a report released late last year, before any of the coronavirus cases were reported.

As the outbreak wreaked havoc on global agricultural supply chains, Singapore also faced the additional risk of disruptions to its food supplies, like many other countries. Delivery times for shipments of vegetables and other perishable goods from farms to supermarkets are now longer as new hygiene rules slow down logistics.

In the longer term, labor crunches could also hit planting and harvesting in neighboring countries such as Malaysia and Thailand, which are among Singapore’s top food sources.

Singapore needs food sources that aren’t environmentally damaging.

Ricky Lin

founder of Life3 Biotech

Most of the current innovations in Singapore’s food tech sector are centered on alternatives to animal products — a major cause of global warming.

“Singapore needs food sources that aren’t environmentally damaging,” Ricky Lin, founder of Life3 Biotech, told CNBC. The company’s plant-based formulas — which contain fungi, lentils, grains and soybeans — mimic the taste of chicken and seafood. Its offerings are expected to hit markets later this year when customer trials with fast food chains, restaurants and hotels are done, Lin said.

His team also cultivates edible microalgae, tiny plant-like organisms found in rivers and oceans, that act as a healthy substitute to fish and help minimize overfishing.

Reduced meat consumption in human diets can curb worldwide carbon dioxide emissions by up to eight billion tonnes per year and free up several million square kilometres of land, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found in a 2019 report.

Siu Mai, a traditional steamed Chinese dumpling, made with Shiok Meats’ cultured shrimp.

Courtesy of Shiok Meats

Another start-up making waves is Shiok Meats, which grows minced crab, lobster and shrimp meat in a lab by extracting cells from the real creature. The firm has received over $7 million in funding to-date from investors such as London-listed Agronomics and American seed accelerator Y Combinator and is continuing to raise more capital with the goal of setting up its first manufacturing plant by 2022.

“Singaporean consumers are open and interested to learn more about cell-based seafood and want to try it,” said its CEO and co-founder Sandhya Sriram, citing surveys that her team had conducted. She said Singapore was no stranger to lab-grown food, being the first Southeast Asian nation to carry Impossible Foods’ plant-based burger and JUST’s mung-bean based eggs.

However, it remains to be seen if consumer demand will make up for the high manufacturing expenses that a company like Shiok Meats incurs.

The cost of making lab-grown food compared to traditional farming is the biggest hurdle for biotech companies, said Leong Lai Peng, a senior lecturer in food science and technology at the National University of Singapore. “What is the most expensive food in the market or what food is the consumer willing to empty their pocket for? That will probably be the most practical thing to make in the lab,” she said.

Perfect breeding ground

Widespread government support makes Singapore an ideal market for alternative protein companies, industry players say.

The government is set to allocate over $100 million to food research programs such as urban agriculture, cultured meat and microbial protein production under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 Plan.

As consumers choose more of these options, the volumes and scale will increase, which allows manufacturers to reduce their prices while maintaining quality.

Andrew Ive

Big Idea Ventures

Two other government-owned entities — the Singapore Food Agency, and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research — also announced a grant in late 2019 for start-ups in the sector. The Southeast Asian nation has pledged to produce more than 30% of its nutritional needs by 2030 and is currently working on a regulatory framework for novel food items, such as alternative proteins.

Plant and cell-based foods are currently more expensive than animal-based food products, but there’s potential for massive scale in the near future, according to venture capitalists.

“As consumers choose more of these options, the volumes and scale will increase, which allows manufacturers to reduce their prices while maintaining quality,” explained Andrew Ive, founder and managing general partner at Big Idea Ventures.

Shiok Meats researcher in the lab

Courtesy of Shiok Meats

His company, located in New York and Singapore, launched a $50 million fund and an accelerator program last year for alternative protein companies. It’s since backed various Singapore companies such as Shiok Meats, plant-based start-up Karana which focuses on jackfruit, Confetti Fine Foods that makes vegan chips with real vegetables, as well as Gaia Foods, another cultured meat player.

“We invest in companies that have the potential to be global platforms i.e. products which can meet demand in multiple geographies,” said Ive.

Going forward, he anticipates greater investment toward plant-based start-ups and hopes more animal protein companies will collaborate with them.

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‘Schitt’s Creek’ sweeps, HBO wins big



Emmy history was made on Sunday when Pop TV darling “Schitt’s Creek” swept the comedy category’s seven major awards during the 72nd Primetime Emmy Award Show, a first for the Hollywood event.

Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy took home the awards for best lead actress and best lead actress in a comedy series. Dan Levy and Annie Murphy won for best supporting actor and best supporting actress in a comedy. Dan Levy garnered the top prize for writing for a comedy series. He also won the award for best direction of a comedy alongside Andrew Cividino. The show took also home the prize for outstanding comedy series.

“Schitt’s Creek,” which aired its sixth and final season earlier this year, previously had not won any Emmy awards for the show. During the Creative Arts Emmys earlier this week, the show took home awards for best casting and best contemporary costuming.

With those acting wins “Schitt’s Creek” has become the first TV show to sweep all four acting awards in the comedy or drama categories in Emmy history. In total, the show’s nine Emmy wins breaks the record for most wins, which was previously held by “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” for its eight wins in both 2018 and 2019.

Premium cable network HBO dominated the limited series and drama categories, hauling in the majority of its awards for its critically-acclaimed shows “Watchmen” and “Succession.” Zendaya, who won for her work HBO’s “Euphoria,” is the youngest Emmy winner in the lead actress category at 24.

In total, HBO snagged 11 primetime Emmy awards, the most of any network for the night. 

Between the Creative Arts Emmys and the primetime Emmys, HBO won 30 trophies, the most of any network.

Netflix garnered two Emmy wins Sunday, bringing its total of wins to 21. VH1, Hulu and Apple each nabbed one primetime Emmy win a piece. Overall, Pop TV had the third-most wins with 10 and first-timer Disney+ tied for the fourth-most Emmy wins with NBC with 8 wins.

“Why would you have an award show in the middle of a pandemic?” Jimmy Kimmel asked rows of empty seats at the Staples Center as the show kicked off Sunday. In the tongue-in-cheek opener, the veteran host promised viewers an Emmy awards show like no other.

“No, seriously, why are we having an award show in the middle of a pandemic?” he asks as the team at ABC intercuts reaction shots and track laughter from previous Emmy ceremonies. “…What is happening tonight is not important. It’s not going to stop Covid. It’s not going to put out the fires. But it’s fun and right now we need fun. My God do we need fun. This has been a miserable year. This has been a year of division, injustice, disease, Zoom school, disaster and death.”

The event doesn’t have an audience or a red carpet. Instead, nominees have been sent their own camera kit to broadcast live from their living rooms as Hollywood doles out trophies to TV’s top talent in the first major entertainment industry ceremony since the coronavirus pandemic began. 

In total ABC shipped out 130 cameras to nominees in 20 cities and 10 countries. Winners gave their acceptance speeches and then were transferred over to a virtual press room to conduct quick press conferences with reporters.

For comparison, the Creative Arts Emmys, which took place last week, had pre-taped acceptance speeches from each nominee. Whoever won had their speech broadcast.

On Sunday, a number of winners reminded the audience to register and get out to vote in November during their speeches. Additionally, nominees and winners wore different T-shirts with slogans like “Vote,” “Remember Her Name” and “Black Lives Matter.”

Regina King (“Watchmen”) and Uzo Aduba (“Mrs. America”) paid tribute to Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African-American emergency medical technician who was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Department officers in March.

Taylor’s death, along with several other Black people who were killed by police, led to protests around the country in recent months. Her death is still being investigated and no one is facing any charges yet. However, last week the city of Louisville, Kentucky agreed to pay $12 million to Taylor’s family.

Damon Lindelof and Cord Jefferson, who won the best writing award for “Watchmen,” recognized the Tulsa Massacre in 1921 during their speech. The event, in which white residents violently attacked black residents and business, is featured heavily in the lore of the HBO show. 

Kimmel ended the telecast by telling viewers to “please vote.” 

Mixed in with celebrity presenters were a number of essential workers including health-care workers, farmers and postal workers. These pretaped segments focused on how these workers are aiding fellow Americans during the pandemic.

ABC is presented winners in the comedy category with Emmy trophies by sending people in tuxedo hazmat suits to nominees’ homes.

For the winner of best variety talk series and best competition show, ABC shipped black boxes to each of the nominees with the promise that only the person who won would find an Emmy inside.

Samantha Bee, who was nominated for “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” and did not win, broke open her box to find a bottle of champange as a condolence prize.

And the winners are:

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series:
WINNER: Catherine O’Hara — “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop TV)
Christina Applegate — “Dead to Me” (Netflix)
Linda Cardellini — “Dead to Me” (Netflix)
Rachel Brosnahan — “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)
Issa Rae — “Insecure” (HBO)
Tracee Ellis Ross — “Blackish” (ABC)

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series:
WINNER: Eugene Levy — “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop TV)
Anthony Anderson — “Black-ish” (ABC)
Don Cheadle — “Black Monday” (Showtime)
Ted Danson — “The Good Place” (NBC)
Michael Douglas — “The Kominsky Method” (Netflix)
Ramy Youssef — “Ramy” (Hulu)

Writing for a Comedy Series
WINNER: Dan Levy — “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop TV)
Sam Johnson and Chris Marcil — “What We Do in the Shadows” (FX)
Tony McNamara — “The Great” (Hulu)
Stefani Robinson — “What We Do in the Shadows” (FX)
Michael Schur — “The Good Place” (NBC)
Paul Simms, “What We Do in the Shadows” (FX)
David West Read, “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop TV)

Directing for a Comedy Series
WINNER: Andrew Cividino and Daniel Levy — “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop TV)
James Burrows — “Will & Grace” (NBC)
Gail Mancuso — “Modern Family” (ABC)
Daniel Palladino — “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Prime Video)
Matt Shakman — “The Great” (Hulu)
Amy Sherman-Palladino — “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Prime Video)
Ramy Youssef — “Ramy” (Hulu)

Supporting Actor, Comedy
WINNER: Dan Levy  “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop TV)
Mahershala Ali — “Ramy” (Hulu)
Alan Arkin — “The Kominsky Method” (Netflix)
Andre Braugher — “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (NBC)
Sterling K. Brown — “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Prime Video)
William Jackson Harper — “The Good Place” (NBC)
Tony Shalhoub — “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Prime Video)
Kenan Thompson — “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)

Supporting Actress, Comedy
WINNER: Annie Murphy — “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop TV)
Alex Borstein — “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Prime Video)
Betty Gilpin — “GLOW” (Netflix)
D’Arcy Carden — “The Good Place” (NBC)
Marin Hinkle — “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Prime Video)
Kate McKinnon — “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
Yvonne Orji — “Insecure” (HBO)
Cecily Strong — “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)

Best Comedy Series
WINNER: “Schitt’s Creek” (Pop TV)
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO)
“Dead to Me” (Netflix)
“The Good Place” (NBC)
“Insecure” (HBO)
“The Kominsky Method” (Netflix)
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)
“What We Do in the Shadows” (FX)

Best Variety Talk Series
WINNER: “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” (HBO)
“The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” (Comedy Central)
“Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” (TBS)
“Jimmy Kimmel Live!” (ABC)
“The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” (CBS)

Best Actress in a Limited Series or a Television Movie
WINNER: Regina King — “Watchmen” (HBO)
Cate Blanchett — “Mrs. America” (FX)
Shira Haas — “Unorthodox” (Netflix)
Octavia Spencer — “Self Made” 
Kerry Washington — “Little Fires Everywhere” (Hulu)

Best Actor in a Limited Series or a Television Movie
WINNER: Mark Ruffalo — “I Know This Much Is True” (HBO)
Jeremy Irons — “Watchmen” (HBO)
Hugh Jackman — “Bad Education” (HBO)
Paul Mescal — “Normal People” (Hulu)
Jeremy Pope — “Hollywood” (Netflix)

Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Drama Special
WINNER: Damon Lindelof and Cord Jefferson 
“Watchmen” (HBO)
Tanya Barfield — “Mrs. America” (Hulu)
Susannah Grant, Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman — “Unbelievable” (Netflix)
Sally Rooney and Alice Birch — “Normal People” (Hulu)
Anna Winger — “Unorthodox” (Netflix)

Directing for a Limited Series
WINNER: Maria Schrader 
“Unorthodox” (Netflix)
Lenny Abrahamson — “Normal People” (Hulu)
Steph Green — “Watchmen” (HBO)
Nicole Kassell — “Watchmen” (HBO)
Lynn Shelton — “Little Fires Everywhere” (Hulu)
Stephen Williams — “Watchmen” (HBO)

Supporting Actor, Limited Series or Movie
WINNER: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II — “Watchmen” (HBO)

Jovan Adepo — “Watchmen” (HBO)
Tituss Burgess — “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend” (Netflix)
Louis Gossett Jr. — “Watchmen” (HBO)
Dylan McDermott — “Hollywood” (Netflix)
Jim Parsons — “Hollywood” (Netflix)

Supporting Actress, Limited Series or a Movie
WINNER: Uzo Aduba —  “Mrs. America” (Hulu)

Toni Collette — “Unbelievable” (Netflix)
Margo Martindale — “Mrs. America” (Hulu)
Jean Smart — “Watchmen” (HBO)
Holland Taylor — “Hollywood” (Netflix)
Tracey Ullman — “Mrs. America” (Hulu)

Best Limited Series
WINNER: “Watchmen” (HBO)
“Little Fires Everywhere” (Hulu)
“Mrs. America” (FX)
“Unbelievable” (Netflix)
“Unorthodox” (Netflix)

Best Competition Series
WINNER: “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (VH1)
“The Masked Singer” (Fox)
“Nailed It” (Netflix)
“Top Chef” (Bravo)
“The Voice” (NBC)

Best Actor in a Drama Series
WINNER: Jeremy Strong — “Succession” (HBO)
Jason Bateman — “Ozark” (Netflix)
Sterling K. Brown — “This Is Us” (NBC)
Steve Carell — “The Morning Show” (Apple)
Brian Cox — “Succession” (HBO)
Billy Porter — “Pose” (FX)

Best Actress in a Drama Series
WINNER: Zendaya — “Euphoria” (HBO)
Jennifer Aniston — “The Morning Show” (Apple)
Olivia Colman — “The Crown” (Netflix)
Jodie Comer — “Killing Eve” (BBC)
Laura Linney — “Ozark” (Netflix)
Sandra Oh — “Killing Eve” (BBC)

Writing for a Drama Series
WINNER: Jesse Armstrong 
“Succession” (HBO)
Miki Johnson — “Ozark” (Netflix)
Peter Morgan — “The Crown” (Netflix)
Chris Mundy — “Ozark” (Netflix)
Thomas Schnauz — “Better Call Saul” (AMC)
John Shiban — “Ozark” (Netflix)
Gordon Smith — “Better Call Saul” (AMC)

Directing for a Drama Series
WINNER: Andrij Parekh  “Succession” (HBO)
Benjamin Caron — “The Crown” (Netflix)
Jessica Hobbs — “The Crown” (Netflix)
Mimi Leder — “The Morning Show” (Apple TV+)
Lesli Linka Glatter — “Homeland” (Showtime)
Mark Mylod — “Succession” (HBO)
Alik Sakharov — “Ozark” (Netflix)
Ben Semanoff — “Ozark” (Netflix)

Supporting Actor, Drama
WINNER: Billy Crudup  “The Morning Show” (Apple)
Nicholas Braun — “Succession” (HBO)
Kieran Culkin — “Succession” (HBO)
Mark Duplass — “The Morning Show” (Apple)
Giancarlo Esposito — “Better Call Saul” (AMC)
Matthew Macfadyen — “Succession” (HBO)
Bradley Whitford — “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
Jeffrey Wright — “Westworld” (HBO)

Supporting Actress, Drama
WINNER: Julia Garner  “Ozark” (Netflix)
Helena Bonham Carter — “The Crown” (Netflix)
Laura Dern — “Big Little Lies” (HBO)
Thandie Newton — “Westworld”(HBO)
Sarah Snook — “Succession” (HBO)
Fiona Shaw — “Killing Eve” (BBC)
Meryl Streep — “Big Little Lies” (HBO)
Samira Wiley — “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)

Best Drama Series
WINNER: “Succession” (HBO)
“Better Call Saul” (AMC)
“The Crown” (Netflix)
“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
“Killing Eve” (BBC)
“The Mandalorian” (Disney+)
“Ozark” (Netflix)
“Stranger Things” (Netflix)

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.

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ByteDance says it will not transfer algorithm to Oracle



The logos of the Chinese video portal TikTok and the US software and hardware manufacturer Oracle Corporation can be seen on a smartphone and screen on September 14, 2020 in Berlin, Germany.

Thomas Trutschel | Photothek | Getty Images

GUANGZHOU, China — ByteDance will not transfer algorithms and technologies to Oracle as part of a deal announced over the weekend to keep social media app TikTok operating in the U.S.

President Donald Trump said he approved a deal on Saturday that will see the creation of a U.S.-headquartered firm called TikTok Global with Oracle and Walmart taking minority stakes. Oracle will become TikTok’s secure cloud provider and host U.S. user data. 

But the deal does not entail any transfer of algorithms and technologies, according to a statement from ByteDance on Monday. The company said Oracle can instead check the source code. 

“The current plan does not involve the transfer of any algorithms and technologies. Oracle has the authority to check the source code of TikTok USA,” ByteDance’s statement said, according to a CNBC translation. 

Source code forms the basis for applications and software. Allowing inspections of source code is common practice to address local data security concerns. 

TikTok’s recommendation algorithm has been a key driver behind its growth, helping to suggest other videos to users and keep them hooked within the app. 

ByteDance also confirmed that it would do a small round of pre-IPO (initial public offering) financing. TikTok Global will become an 80% holding subsidiary of ByteDance as a result, giving it majority control. As part of the Oracle and Walmart deal, the companies said they would work toward a public listing in the U.S. within a year. 

Over the weekend, Trump said the new TikTok Global will “have nothing to do with any outside land, any outside country, it will have nothing to do with China. It’ll be totally secure. That’ll be part of the deal.” 

Beijing-based ByteDance’s majority ownership of TikTok appears to contradict that. But ByteDance is 40% owned by U.S. venture capital firms, so the Trump administration can technically claim TikTok Global is now majority owned by U.S. money.

Last month, as the TikTok deal appeared to be coming to a conclusion, China threw a spanner in the works by updating its list of technologies subject to export restrictions. One of the technologies on the list related to recommendation algorithms. After Beijing made this move, ByteDance said it would comply with the rules

Washington claimed that TikTok represents a national security threat because it collects American users’ data which could be accessed by Beijing. TikTok has repeatedly denied this and says it stores the data of Americans in the U.S. with a backup in Singapore. 

In August, Trump issued an executive order that would have banned transactions with ByteDance and effectively shut down TikTok in the U.S. That was set to come into effect on September 20. But the Department of Commerce said in a statement that it has delayed that by a week. 

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