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Your Wednesday briefing: Asia buys Russian oil

We cover the growing demand for Russian oil in Asia and the collapse of the Chinese real estate market.

An increase in Asian demand for discounted Russian oil offsets the significantly lower number of barrels sold to Europe, mitigating the effects of Western sanctions.

Most of the extra oil went to two countries: China and India. Chinese imports of Russian oil rose 28% in May from the previous month, while India went from having almost no Russian oil to more than 760,000 barrels a day.

Oil is being sold at a steep discount due to the risks associated with sanctions imposed to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Yet soaring energy prices have boosted Russia’s oil revenues, which took in $1.7 billion more last month than in April.

More news from the war in Ukraine:


Phone tracking devices are now everywhere in China, as are more than half of the world’s nearly one billion surveillance cameras, analysts estimate. The police create some of the largest DNA databases in the world there. And authorities are relying on facial recognition technology to collect voiceprints from the general public.

Times reporters have spent more than a year analyzing more than a hundred thousand government tender documents, revealing that China’s ambition to collect a staggering amount of personal data from ordinary citizens is broader than we never thought before.

The analysis found that police chose locations to maximize the data their facial recognition cameras could collect, such as where people eat, shop and travel. In a tender document from Fujian province, police estimated that there were 2.5 billion facial images stored at any given time.

Authorities are using phone trackers to link people’s digital lives to their physical movements. In one case, documents revealed that police purchased phone trackers in hopes of detecting a Uyghur-Chinese dictionary app, which would identify phones likely belonging to members of the oppressed Uyghur ethnic minority.

For more: Here are the four main takeaways from the Times investigation.


A housing debt crisis and a sluggish economy in China have caused new home sales to plummet and real estate prices to fall for the first time in years, jeopardizing an important investment for millions of Chinese families. .

The situation worsened when a new variant of the coronavirus triggered widespread lockdowns and crippled the economy. Prices fell across the country, but demand did not return, a chilling sign for an economy that had come to depend on housing for job growth and business spending.

But so far, China’s efforts to revive the housing market with lower mortgage rates, easier credit, subsidies and relaxed regulations have not worked. In April and May, new home prices fell in more than half of China’s 70 largest cities for the first time since 2016, and sales of these properties fell nearly 60%.

Macros: Since the country began rolling out reforms in 1988 for commercial housing, real estate has become a mainstay of a rising economy. According to some estimates, it accounts for around 30% of China’s gross domestic product.

Microphone : For young people who want to get married, owning a home is considered a necessary step before starting a family. Instead of investing in stocks and bonds, Chinese households are spending the bulk of their savings on real estate – at more than twice the rate of Americans.

In nine months, three wild dogs traveled some 2,000 kilometres, more than double the previous record for the species, scientists say. The sisters braved lions, crocodiles, poachers and raging rivers on their journey to find a new home.

It has been almost 28 months since the offices closed at the start of the pandemic. More than enough time to buy a ring light, hang art on the walls, and figure out the mute button. But as Times business reporter Emma Goldberg has found, many people still haven’t adapted.

Many people have continued to work from home with some level of casualness, as if any day could herald a quick return to cabins and daily commutes.

By the end of 2021, three million professional positions in the United States were permanently remote. Many other workers are in limbo, returning to the office part-time or waiting for a return-to-office plan that won’t be postponed. The confusion and ambivalence people feel can make it difficult to invest in making a remote work setup permanent.

Last week, Sujay Jaswa, a former Dropbox executive, did a video shoot with the camera pointing up at the ceiling. “His business philosophy does not include achieving decent zoom,” wrote Room Rater, a Twitter account that rates video call backgrounds.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. – Matthew

PS This week, 50 years ago, Irish Republican Army men from Crumlin Road Prison in Belfast ended a 36-day hunger strike.

The latest episode of “The Daily” focuses on the hot US housing market.

You can reach Matthew and the team at [email protected].


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