v2025 (2)

v2025

Entertainment

IMF team now in Colombo continues consultations on technical assistance  

Sri Lanka has dropped plans for a fresh bailout facility from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) but discussions are underway with the donor agency on technical assistance on public financial management, tax policy and administration.

"The Sri Lankan government has decided not to pursue a new or ongoing  IMF programme, but to continue maintaining the close relationship with the Fund under standard consultation processes similar to many other member countries," Central Bank Governor Professor W. D. Lakshman said.

Addressing a media conference convened to brief journalists on the third monetary policy review of the year, he noted that a team of two IMF economists currently in Colombo are conducting annual Article 1V consultations with Sri Lankan authorities.

They will be assessing economic and financial developments and discuss the country's economic and financial policies with government and central bank officials.

The team reports its findings to IMF management and then presents them for discussion to the Executive Board, which represents all of the IMF's member countries.

A summary of the IMF Board’s views is subsequently transmitted to the country's government thereafter informed sources said.

However, according to State Minister of Finance Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Sri Lanka is eligible to receive up to USD 800 million to boost foreign reserves from the IMF as a part of a new allocation of Special Drawing Rights.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) confirms it has received a request for emergency financial assistance from the Sri Lankan authorities to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was stated by the Director of the Communications Department of the International Monetary Fund, Gerry Rice responding to questions during a press briefing recently.

We did receive a request from the Sri Lankan authorities for emergency financial support to help fight the COVID pandemic,” the IMF spokesman said.

He stated that the assessment of that support has taken longer than for other countries due to “Sri Lanka's daunting economic challenges and high public debt.”

Rice said they have sought, but not reached understanding, on how to fulfil the key requirements for what could be a rapid financing instrument which would include policies to continue ensuring debt sustainability to address the balance of payment challenges including from the COVID‑19 impact on tourism and to preserve international reserves.

“The USD 1.5 billion EFF arrangement approved in 2016 expired on June 2, 2020. Given that the final review under the arrangement was not completed, Sri Lanka could not avail of the last disbursement under the EFF, amounting to SDR 118.550 million which is equivalent to around USD 200 million. Disbursements under any Fund arrangement can only be made during the period between the date of its approval by the IMF Board and its expiration date," IMF mission chief Masahiro Nozaki said.   Therefore at this point, for Sri Lanka to access any additional Fund resources, the IMF Board approval of a new arrangement would be needed, he disclosed.

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Inside Japan's all new Nintendo theme park

Nintendo fans were treated to an in-depth look at Universal Studios Japan's latest attraction opening next year.  

The full scale Mario themed park has been six years in the making and was estimated to cost about $351 million to build.

Universal Studios Japan already plays host to the successful Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Nintendo have no doubts this next big attraction will be a mega hit.

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Mario's creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, took viewers on a trip around Super Nintendo World. (Nintendo)

Nintendo unveiled a number of rides and attractions during a live streamed Nintendo Direct presented by Mario's creator Shigeru Miyamoto.

Miyamoto takes the viewer on a 15-minute tour of the park, showing off plenty of attractions and wonderous creations.

"I wish it were as simple as creating a level in Super Mario Maker," Miyamoto joked.

Nin 2The park cost an estimated $351 million to build. (Nintendo)

This is our first proper look at what's on offer but Miyamoto says this is only a fraction of what's on offer.

"There's even more fun stuff you can discover," he said.

From life sized warp pipes and piranha plants to multi-story level recreations and giant mushrooms – there's a whole world to explore.

Bowser's Castle (or Koopa's Castle as it translates in Japan) is the centrepiece of the park.

Inside guests will find a Mario Kart themed track that requires the rider to wear an AR (augmented reality) headset, as well as a huge statue of the big bad himself.

As you'd expect, the food at Super Nintendo World sticks to the theme.

The park's restaurant is named Kinopio's Café (Toad's Café) and features a wide selection of Mushroom themed food, including a Mario Burger, Super Mushroom Pizza Bowl and various other meals on the menu.

Not only does the look food resemble mushrooms, many of the dishes offer actual mushrooms as an ingredient.

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Extras such as Power-Up bands add an interactive dimension to the park. (Nintendo)

Upon entry to the park each guest can opt to buy a Power-Up band, which offers a more interactive experience throughout Super Nintendo World.

While wearing the band you can interact with the park's mystery boxes, much like in the games, to receive a digital coin which you can view in the theme park's app.

The band also allows you to participate in various interactive games and find hidden secrets hidden throughout the park and even take on Bowser Jr.

The park's gift shop is named the 1UP Factory and it looks like every Nintendo fan's dream.
 
Guests can expect to pick up some exclusive merchandise, including a toy Mario that walks when you push him along named Tokotoko Mario (which roughly translates to Walking Mario).

Miyamoto also confirmed plans to open a Super Nintendo World in California and Florida in the USA are already underway, as well as announcing plans to build a Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios in Singapore.

This year Nintendo celebrated the 35th anniversary of Super Mario Bros on the Super Nintendo console.

Super Nintendo World is scheduled to open at Universal Studios Japan on February 4 next year.
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Hollywood actor arrested over $690 million scam scheme

An aspiring Hollywood actor has been accused of scamming millions from film investors by tricking them with fake Netflix deals to fund a lavish lifestyle.

Zachary Horwitz, 34, was arrested on Tuesday by FBI agents on suspicion of running a $690m (£502m) Ponzi scheme.

Mr Horwitz, whose stage name is Zach Avery, allegedly raised funds from investors for film licensing deals with Netflix and HBO that did not exist.

He was charged with wire fraud.

If convicted, he could be jailed for up to 20 years.

The criminal complaint was filed by prosecutors and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday.

It accuses Mr Horwitz of using investor funds for "lavish personal spending", including extravagant trips to Las Vegas, flights on chartered jets, payments for high-end cars and the purchase of a $5.7m mansion in Los Angeles.

"We allege that Horwitz promised extremely high returns and made them seem plausible by invoking the names of two well-known entertainment companies and fabricating documents," Michele Wein Layne, a senior SEC official, said in a statement on Tuesday.

As an actor, Mr Horwitz has not had the most illustrious career in Hollywood. Other than an uncredited part in Fury - a 2014 American war film starring Brad Pitt - Mr Horwitz has mostly appeared in low-budget films with mediocre ratings.

A lawyer for Mr Horwitz, Anthony Pacheco, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the BBC.

BBC

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A husband and wife in Ecuador are the world’s oldest married couple

Julio Ceasar Mora and his wife Waldramina Maclovia Quinteros have been married for 79 years, and their relationship isn’t the only thing with longevity.

He’s 110 years old and she’ll turn 105 in October, making them the oldest married couple in the world with a combined age of 214 years and 358 days.

Guinness World Records has certified the record and says they are also the world’s oldest living married couple.

Waldramina Maclovia 1000px Mora was born on March 10, 1910, and Quinteros was born on October 16, 1915.

They met during a school vacation because her sister was married to his cousin, according to a statement from Guinness World Records.

After seven years of friendship, they got married on February 7, 1941. It was an intimate and secret ceremony with their godparents and close friends because their families didn’t approve of the marriage.

Mora and Quinteros said their relatives didn’t get along at first, but they were able to bring them together over the years.

“Family unity under the rules of love, mutual respect, honest work, and proper education based on family values are the keys to healthy coexistence,” the couple said in the statement.

They went on to have five children, who all graduated college, and a big family of 11 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren, and 9 great-great-grandchildren. Their oldest son died when he was 58, according to the statement. They were both teachers until they retired.

Aura Cecilia, one of their daughters, said that her parents enjoy going to the movies and the theater together, gardening and having big dinners with family and friends.

They haven’t been able to have get-togethers lately because of the Covid-19 pandemic, so they are looking forward to being reunited with their family and loved ones.

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Sri Lankan actors to play leading roles in Tamil film

The Tamil remake of the 2019 Malayalam blockbuster movie 'Android Kunjappan', renamed as 'Google Kuttappan', will feature two actors from Sri Lanka.

Tharshan Thiyagarajah and Losliya Mariyanesan, known for their appearances in the reality tv show 'Big Boss Tamil', are set to play the leading roles.

Filmmaker K.S. Ravikumar, who will also play a lead role in the movie, will also be seen producing the project, Indian media reported.

The story of the film is based around a lonely aged man, who is gifted a robot by his son. It has been speculated that Tharshan will play the role of the son in the Tamil version.

The original Malayalam sci-fi comedy-drama was directed by Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval and is said to be inspired from the Hollywood flick Robot & Frank.

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Deepika Padukone, Siddhant Chaturvedi and Ananya Panday to ditch Sri Lanka schedule

As the film industry gets ready to go back to work with lockdown restrictions easing around the state, it seems that director Shakum Batra is looking at locations closer to home to get cracking on his next.

After reports hinted at Deepika Padukone, Siddhant Chaturvedi and Ananya Panday packing their bags and heading to Sri Lanka to get cracking on their next untitled film, recent reports suggest that the team may now be looking for domestic options. According to reports doing the rounds online, the director reportedly has his sights set on Goa to begin work on his noir thriller as soon as next September. A report on Mid-Day claims that this will be the first leg of the shoot that will be a 25-day schedule. The team has reportedly begun prep for the film, while the lead cast is expected to join in mid-September.

Reports further go on to state that the team will decide if their next schedule will be a domestic or international shoot, depending on COVID-19 situation.

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World's only known albino giant panda spotted in China

A giant panda reserve in China on Friday released rare videos of the world's only known albino giant panda roaming its natural habitat in Wolong, Southwest China's Sichuan. The giant panda is believed to be three years old and has started an independent life.

The Sichuan Wolong National Nature Reserve Administration said that the two videos recorded in February 2020 and released on Friday were the second time in more than a year the albino panda had been spotted by infrared trigger cameras.

In the first video, the panda is seen roaming in the snow, sitting with its back to the camera close to the tree where the camera is installed.

Three days later, it passed through dense forests and crossed small rivers and was recorded by  another camera on a mountain ridge a kilometer away. It was seen in the video for about 10 minutes.

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Infrared camera image taken on April 20, 2019 shows an all-white giant panda in the Wolong National Nature Reserve in southwest China's Sichuan Province. File photo:Xinhua

The panda was shown to have bright white fur, steady steps, a strong body, leading experts to determine it is healthy and about three years old.

While extremely rare, albinos can occur in numerous groups of vertebrate animals, according to Li Sheng of the IUCN Bear Expert Group and the Peking University School of Life Science. The genetic mutation prevents melanin from being synthesized.

The panda was first documented in May 2019 and has grown and appears stronger in the videos released on Friday.

In the two video clips taken last February, the panda is living on its own and experts believe it has left its mother's care and living independently.

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'Elephant Twins' : Rare set spotted in Sri Lanka's Minneriya National Park?

Marking a first, a pair of elephant calves feeding from the same mother has been spotted in Sri Lanka. The rare sighting has now prompted officials to speculate if they were both twins.
 
According to reports, the calves, which researchers believe could be three to four weeks old, were spotted grazing with other tuskers in Minneriya Sanctuary, in north-central part of Sri Lanka.
 
Tharaka Prasad, director-general of department of wildlife conservation said that after observing the pair from a distance, the officials were confident enough to say that they were twins.
 
Another evidence of them being twins comes from renowned conservationist Sumith Pilapitiya who photographed feeding them from their mother. According to reports, the forest rangers were currently conducting a DNA test on herd’s dung to confirm the fact.
 
If confirmed, this would be the first time that elephant twins had been spotted in Sri Lanka along with their mother.

 

 
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The world’s oldest animal paintings are on this cave wall

In the Western imagination, ancient cave paintings tend to conjure images of Lascaux, the cave complex in southwestern France that is famous for its exceptionally detailed depictions of humans and animals. The Lascaux paintings, however, are a mere 17,000 years old.
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Amitabh Bachchan and son in hospital with COVID-19

Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan and his son have tested positive for the coronavirus and are hospitalized with mild symptoms in Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital, a hospital statement said Sunday.

The Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital said that Amitabh Bachchan is stable with mild symptoms and is currently admitted in an isolation unit.

Bachchan, 77, said in a tweet on Saturday that he has tested positive and appealed to those who were in close proximity to him in the past 10 days to get themselves tested.

His son, Abhishek Bachchan, who is 44, tweeted Saturday night that he also has tested positive for COVID-19 and is hospitalized.

“Both of us having mild symptoms have been admitted to the hospital,” he wrote. “I request all to stay calm and not panic.”

The elder Bachchan has acted in more than 200 Indian films over the past five decades. He is also a former politician and a television host.

The Bachchans are often called Bollywood’s first family. His wife, Jaya, is also an actress and a one-time member of Parliament. Their son, Abhishek, and daughter-in-law, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, are Bollywood superstars as well.

The Press Trust of India news agency cited Maharashtra state Health Minister Rajesh Tope as saying Amitabh Bachchan and his son have cough and fever. ``They underwent a rapid antigen test and (results) came positive,'' he said.

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Reddit's most popular movies and TV shows of 2020

There wasn't much to do in this horrible year besides consume entertainment and use the internet. So it will probably not shock you to learn that an awful lot of people were talking about entertainment online this year.

Reddit has unveiled a heap of data about users' activity in 2020, showing that basically everything was way up compared to 2019, with more daily active users, posts, comments, and upvotes. The data also detailed the most-discussed entertainment topics among users, though the overall most popular TV show was not revealed as in previous years. Instead, Reddit disclosed a handful of the most popular shows in various genres, including reality, comedy, drama, anime, and sci-fi.

Among these top titles were juggernauts like The Office, Game of Thrones, The Bachelor, and Rick and Morty, along with a smattering of cult favorites like Community, which debuted on Netflix in April, and BoJack Horseman, which concluded its run in January. Meanwhile, Tenet was the most-discussed movie of the year, edging out (presumably) more widely-seen titles like Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and Hamilton.

Other fun tidbits from the year-end data: the r/animalcrossing subreddit saw a more than 1700 percent increase in activity from 2019, Making a Murderer and Unsolved Mysteries were the top two true-crime TV shows by community activity, and the most popular TV community created in 2020 was, of course, r/tigerking. Thanks, Reddit, for giving us the year in miniature.

See the full lists of Reddit's most popular entertainment below.

Most Popular Television Shows By Community Activity

● Reality TV: Big Brother, 90 Day Fiancé, The Bachelor, Survivor, RuPaul’s Drag Race

● Comedy: The Office, Rick and Morty, Community, BoJack Horseman, The Simpsons

● Drama: The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul, Grey’s Anatomy, Breaking Bad

● Anime: One Piece, My Hero Academia, Naruto, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Boruto

● Sci-fi: Star Trek, Westworld, Doctor Who, The 100, Dark

Most Discussed New or Upcoming Films in r/movies

    Tenet
    Dune
    Mulan
    Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
    Sonic the Hedgehog
    Wonder Woman 1984
    Hamilton
    Birds of Prey
    Black Widow
    The Invisible Man

Most Popular Video Games of 2020 by Community Activity

    League of Legends
    Minecraft
    Animal Crossing
    Fortnite
    Destiny

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'Sapiens - A day in the Life' at Crimson Spaces Gallery

"Sapiens| a day in the life" presents an individual’s life in the 21st Century from a social and cultural context, portraying the anxieties and struggles faced by humans in the eyes of society where people are defined and molded by herd mentality.

It further investigates subjectivity in ‘beauty’ and its’ standardization in society created by ultra-capitalistic industries. Combining a classical and contemporary realistic approach in drawing and painting, “Sapiens | a day in the life” is a visually representational, yet conceptual body of work.
Malinda SM 2
Malinda SM 3

Sri Lanka based artist, Malinda Jayasinghe pursued a career in Visual Arts in 2019 after leaving the corporate sector where he worked since 2015. Being a self-taught artist, his passion for art started at a young age, figurative drawing - human portraiture focusing on representational realism. He emphasizes on the human form, and the subjectivity of ‘beauty’ while conveying contemporary issues faced by humans in their daily lives. Influenced by contemporary artists such as George Condo, Miquel Angel Belinchon and Jono Dry, Malinda uses a combination of graphite and charcoal pencils as well as acrylic and oil paints in his artwork. “Sapiens | a day in the life”, explores the artists’ roots in figurative art through a contemporary approach to classical realism.

The exhibition will be open to the public from 06-27 of March at the Crimson Spaces Gallery at 32A, Horton Place, Colombo 07.
Malinda Artist
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