From the group behind Sri Lanka’s uprising to Twitter officially suing Elon Musk – Here’s your July 13 news briefing

From the group behind Sri Lanka’s uprising to Twitter officially suing Elon Musk – Here’s your July 13 news briefing
FILE PHOTO: General view of a protest area, dubbed the Gota-Go village, where people are gathering in opposition to Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa near the Presidential Secretariat is seen, amid the country’s economic crisis, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 11, 2022. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

To start off, we’re looking into:

The group behind Sri Lanka’s protest

A lot of attention has been paid to how Sri Lanka’s president caved to public pressure and stepped down from his position after the economy plunged into crisis and bankruptcy. But, not as much focus has been directed toward the people who helped organize the protests, ultimately leading to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his prime minister resigning.

The movement began in March, which led to the then prime minister and Rajapaksa’s elder brother Mahinda quitting on May 9. Younger brother Basil, the former finance minister, also left on June 9. Then a few dozen activists wanted to revive the protests and unseat the president on July 9, meeting weekly for hours to plot the protests. Between coordinating online and on social media; meeting with unions, political parties and student organizations; and drumming up support door-to-door, according to a police official who spoke anonymously to Reuters, at least 200,000 people rolled up to the president’s house and to protests to try to get him to leave office. Within hours, the president and prime minister had separately announced their resignations.

Meanwhile, Basil was reportedly trying to leave the country on Tuesday morning but was blocked by airport officials. But, sources now say he has fled the country and is headed toward the US. President Rajapaksa has also reportedly left for overseas in a military jet

Russia is turning to Iran for weapons, says the US

Russia drones
FILE PHOTO: Iranian flag flies in front of the UN office building, housing IAEA headquarters, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria, May 24, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File Photo

Up to now, the West has supplied billions of dollars worth of military weapons to help Ukraine in its fight against Russia, with countries like the US remaining committed to sustaining “the effective defense of Ukraine.” In parallel, the countries are also trying to find ways to cut down the amount of money Russia makes, which is, in turn, helping fund its war.

On Monday, according to the White House, US officials said they believe Russia has turned to Iran, another country heavily sanctioned by the US, for drones. This comes after Ukraine also asked for thousands of drones to be donated to it last week, with both sides needing them to spot one another’s positions to help direct firing. Previously, Russia went to Israel for drone technology, but because Israel has kept neutral during the war, Russia needs a new supplier.

New COVID sub-variants spread globally

COVID sub-variants
People wait to take coronavirus disease (COVID-19) tests at a pop-up testing site in New York City, U.S., July 11, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

New omicron sub-variants of COVID-19 are spreading quickly throughout the world. In the US, a little more than 100,000 people have tested positive for COVID each day, with experts saying that number is probably even higher because of people not reporting at-home tests. In Europe, there’s been an uptick in cases and hospitalizations due to new strains of the virus. And in China, where people in hubs like Shanghai have only just left lockdown, another round of lockdowns could be on the horizon because of their own rising cases.

In the West, experts have warned that the movement away from health protocols has been part of why the virus has been able to spread. They say that some of those protocols, like mandatory masking or COVID passports, should be reimplemented to add some extra protection from these new variants. But in China, the concern is more an economic one – investors are watching to see if those hubs like Shanghai go on lockdown again, which would likely throw their economies into even more turmoil than they’ve already been through recently.

To end, we’ll look into:

First photos from the Webb Space Telescope revealed

Webb Telescope
Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

NASA just released the most detailed photos we’ve ever seen of the universe taken from its newly in-use James Webb Space Telescope (or JWST for short). The pictures released so far show galaxies and nebulae hundreds of millions of light-years away, which means that we’re able to literally look into the past and see those galaxies forming shortly after the creation of the universe itself.

Needless to say, this is an expensive camera.

Like, about US$10 billion expensive. The telescope took the better part of two decades to develop, and some astronomers worried it might never launch just because of how technically complicated it was – and perhaps they were traumatized by the sheer number of times it was supposed to launch and then didn’t.

But now that it’s up there (or, more accurately, out there, considering it’s a million miles away from Earth right now), it can show us some things we haven’t seen for ourselves yet. The ability to look so far back and with such accuracy is new, meaning scientists will be able to examine what kinds of things happened right after the Big Bang.

Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

And what’s more, they can tap into Mother Nature for some help, too. For example, scientists figured out how to use black holes – which bend space and time, and therefore, light – as essentially telescopes into what’s behind them, which means that not only will some of the photos we see be through a human-made telescope but also a natural one as well.

This camera can do a lot, and the images we’re going to get from it will teach us more about the universe we live in.

In other news …

📉Stocks, oil and Bitcoin: While MSCI’s gauge of global stocks shed 0.22%, global stocks traded were mixed on Tuesday, with European stocks closing 0.5% higher. Wall Street’s Dow Jones rose 0.16%, while the S&P 500 lost 0.15%, and Nasdaq lost 0.13%. MSCI’s broadest index of APAC shares excluding Japan closed 1.04% lower.

This comes as investors await US inflation reports coming out Wednesday and comments from the Fed later on this week.

🛢Oil prices fell, with factors like China’s recent COVID spread leading to lower forecasted demand for crude oil if curbs and lockdowns are put into place.

💲Bitcoin is at around US$19,468.

💔The world bids farewell to Abe: People across Japan said farewell to its longest-serving former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday during his funeral. Meanwhile, local news reported that around 2,000 condolence messages arrived from countries around the world.

💸India’s inflation: Like many other economies around the world, India’s consumer prices are above the target range, with its government stats agency saying that the country reached above the central bank’s retail inflation targets at 7.01% in June from a year earlier. The bank aims for between 2-6%, setting the scene for interest rate hikes soon.

😢Ukraine-Russia: After a Russian rocket strike on several flats in the eastern region of Ukraine, officials have said that the death toll has increased to 34, making it one of the deadliest civilian attacks so far.

Sri Lanka’s IMF talks: With Sri Lanka’s government broken and absent, it begs the question – who’s the IMF going to negotiate with to get the country the emergency loan it needs to get back on track? Some say that while it obviously puts negotiations at a standstill until a new government is formed, a new government could also help with social stability since many Sri Lankans blamed the previous government for their current economic problems.

📢Bank protests: We mentioned yesterday that public protests had taken place in Zhengzhou. Hundreds of people in China are demanding tens of billions worth of deposits back after what could be the nation’s biggest suspected bank scam by private investment firm Henan Xincaifu Group. Now officials have said that most victims will be repaid starting on Friday.

🎮China’s gaming approvals: After a several months-long hiatus, Chinese regulators started republishing lists of approved games. The most recent batch, which is also the third one this year, included 67 games, none of which included Tencent, making investors again unsure how to look at the current regulatory situation.

👩‍⚖️Elon sued: Twitter officially sued Musk on Tuesday in Delaware’s Court of Chancery for backing out of the US$44 billion deal to buy the platform.

💬Trump and Musk’s Twitter spat: Over the weekend, Trump said that when he and Musk spoke, Musk said he voted for Trump. Musk denied this, which led to Trump calling him a “bullshit artist." Yesterday, Musk tweeted, “I don’t hate the man, but it’s time for Trump to hang up his hat & sail into the sunset."

🎤Disney and BTS: Disney announced on Monday that a documentary series featuring none other than Korean heartthrobs BTS will be debuting next year. The series will feature the group members’ lives over the last nine years and their next chapters after breaking up in mid-June.

Written and put together by Jake Shropshire, Christine Dulion and Krystal Lai