The country is in the middle of talks about a potential bailout deal, while it’s also struggling to pay for imports like fuel and food. The recent move risks causing further unrest, though, following a wild few months that included the country’s prime minister quitting and the collapse of the economy – as well as ongoing demands for the president’s resignation, which President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has already said is not happening. In May, Sri Lanka defaulted on its international debt for the first time ever.
In addition to the new fuel restrictions, Sri Lankan envoys are headed to Qatar and Russia this week to negotiate for fresh supplies. The country is also hoping to get approval for another US$500 million in credit from India for fresh fuel imports. This is in addition to the about US$4 billion India has already lent Sri Lanka for fuel and essentials this year. It also plans to let foreign companies begin distributing fuel simply to help solve the massive shortage.
The new restrictions mean public schools are closed, and the government is asking people to work from home to reduce transportation costs as people line up for kilometers at gas stations.
Ghislaine Maxwell’s sentencing
Ghislaine Maxwell is a name synonymous with Jeffrey Epstein – an American financier and convicted sex offender accused of running a “vast network” of underage girls for sex. Epstein died in a New York prison cell in August last year while awaiting trial for federal charges of sex trafficking minors, and his death was ruled a suicide. Now, Maxwell, Epstein’s former girlfriend, has been sentenced to 20 years in a US prison and handed a US$750,000 fine for helping recruit and traffic underage girls for him to sexually abuse between 1994 and 2004.
The most surprising thing was when Maxwell stood up to address the victims directly, saying that she regretted meeting Epstein and hoped the sentencing would allow them to “look forward and not back.” She also attempted to pin the blame on Epstein, saying, “Jeffrey Epstein should have been here before all of you, he should have stood before you all those years ago, he should have stood before you in 2005, again in 2009, and again in 2019.”
Four accusers spoke at Tuesday’s hearing, most of whom were only identified by their first name, recounting their harrowing stories of being recruited by Maxwell and abused by Epstein, with Maxwell sometimes participating in the abuse. Maxwell did not look at them when they read out their prepared statements.
Turkey backs Sweden and Finland’s bids into NATO
Without the agreement of all NATO members, new countries can’t join the security group. With that, Turkey, a key NATO member, has previously said that if Sweden and Finland sought membership into the security alliance, it would oppose their bids. This is because Turkey’s President Erdogan says that the two Nordic countries harbor members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group Turkey views as a terrorist organization.
Now, Turkey has agreed to back the two countries’ applications into NATO after all three countries signed an agreement addressing Turkey’s worries, including lifting bans on selling weapons to Turkey and fighting terrorism “in all its forms and manifestations.” Leaders of states have welcomed the move, as has NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg who said that Russia was getting the opposite of what it wanted, which was “less NATO.”
To end, we’ll look into:
Dating app burnout is real
Have you ever found yourself swiping and swiping through dating apps like Tinder or Bumble just to feel burned out from the same old, same old and never getting into a relationship with … well, substance? Well, if so, you’re not alone.
The phenomenon is called “dating app burnout,” and it happens when people get tired of spending more time scrolling through potential dates than actually dating. Research by Leah LeFebvre at the University of Alabama found that around 35% of Tinder users said they deleted the app because they felt “unsuccessful” because they had “no responses, no matches, no potential partners or negative experiences.”
Users also point out that it takes a significant amount of time and work to actually go out on dates, partly because dating apps don’t make it particularly intuitive to filter certain people out – at least not without paying. According to Rosemary Guiser, who uses the free version of Bumble, she’s “forced to wade through dozens and dozens of people I wouldn’t want to give a second look to.”
But strangely, despite fatigue and burnout, people keep returning to dating apps. Some users say dating apps have just become the norm of the dating world, and if you’re not using them, you’re not really looking for dates. Others point out that, especially because of the pandemic, socializing with people we don’t already know has become more unfamiliar to us.
Ultimately, some users say that the decision to keep or delete dating apps on their phones comes down to whether or not they feel like they have a healthy relationship with the time they were spending on the app.
That’s one reason Guiser decided to take a break from dating apps. “Am I having a good time with this? Or am I just doing this because I’m lonely and feel miserable?” said Guiser. “I was trying to catch myself in a doom scroll of looking at people and just feeling discouraged.”
In other news …
💹Stocks, oil and Bitcoin: Stocks around the world fell on Tuesday after a US consumer confidence report showed that it had dropped over inflation and economic growth. Earlier in the trading session, though, stocks were slightly lifted because of the easing of China’s COVID rules, with investors hoping that this would help get things back on track. Meanwhile, ARK Invest’s Cathie Wood said that she thinks that the US is already in a recession. All three major US indexes were down, with every sector aside from energy on the S&P losing ground.
🛢Oil prices gained for the third day straight as G7 members continue to look at capping the price of Russian oil and with major oil-producing regions like Saudi Arabia and the UAE looking like they’re unlikely to produce more juice.
💰Bitcoin is at around US$20,384.
😷China’s COVID: After four months, both Beijing and Shanghai are said to be back at zero locally transmitted cases. According to the country’s health agency, China saw 22 cases nationwide. Meanwhile, the country has cut quarantine times for inbound travelers by half to seven days in a quarantine facility and then home monitoring for three.
😔A border tragedy: At least 51 people are dead after they and others were found in an abandoned truck in San Antonio, Texas. Sixteen people, including four children, were taken to the hospital. San Antonio is a popular route for human traffickers as it’s just 150 miles (250 kilometers) from the US-Mexico border. Three people are in police custody.
👩⚖️January 6 hearings: At the January 6 hearings, former aide Cassidy Hutchinson said that Trump knew that the riot would potentially be violent and that the mob was armed but still urged the group to storm the White House because he said they were “not here to hurt me.”
📝EY trouble: Major accounting firm Ernst & Young has agreed to pay US$100 million in fines after its audit staff were found to have cheated on the ethics exams required to get and keep CPA licenses.
💼Pinterest CEO change: Pinterest’s CEO Ben Silbermann Is stepping down and transitioning to executive chairman. He will be replaced by Bill Ready, who’s already been at the company for several years. Many people interpret this move as a sign that the period for the product founder is out, and it’s time for Pinterest to monetize its hundreds of millions of users.
🤫Airbnb cracks down on rowdy parties: Airbnbhas made its party ban on its listed rentals permanent. One-night “party houses” will be banned as well as any disruptive events. Violating this rule may lead to account suspension or permanent removal from the platform.
✈Xi’s confirmed visit: Hong Konghas confirmed Xi’s visit to the city for its handover anniversary. This is Xi’s first trip outside of the mainland since COVID started around two and a half years ago.
🏎Red Bull’s hypercar plans: Red Bull is launching its own 5 million euro hypercar for limited release in 2025. It’s a two-seater hybrid V8 meant for track use.
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