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Republican U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska announces resignation



Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb.

Bill Clark | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Republican U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska on Saturday resigned from office after a California jury convicted him of lying to federal authorities about an illegal campaign donation from a foreign national.

In a letter to the House, Fortenberry said he was resigning from Congress, effective March 31.

Fortenberry’s announcement followed concerted pressure from political leaders in Nebraska and Washington for him to step down. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Friday urged Fortenberry to resign. Nebraska Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts said Fortenberry should “do the right thing for his constituents” and leave the office he has held since 2005.

Fortenberry’s withdrawal from the primary leaves state Sen. Mike Flood as the likely GOP nominee. The former speaker of the Nebraska Legislature, who has won endorsements from Ricketts and former Gov. Dave Heineman, has a strong advantage in the Republican-leaning 1st Congressional District. State Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, a Democrat from Lincoln, is also running for the seat.

Pansing Brooks said Fortenberry’s conviction is a “wake-up call” that the district needs a change.

Fortenberry will be sentenced on June 28.

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27-year-old pays $1,850 to live in a former NYC laundromat



While Sampson Dahl’s ex-girlfriend thought the old laundromat he was considering as a potential new apartment was “disgusting,” he saw the potential for a great live-work space. He moved in a month later.

“I don’t think a space needs to be a perfect representation of what we hope a simple mind looks like,” Dahl tells CNBC Make It. “I think a space should be an imperfect representation of the people who are in it at that moment in their lives.”

The 27-year-old production designer is no stranger to living in commercial spaces; he used to live in a warehouse in Chicago, so he knew going into his apartment hunt that he wanted to repeat that experience.

“I like the freedom of a commercial space, even though there are definitely fewer tenant rights,” he said. “Something feels more ethical about moving into a vacant storefront that’s been empty for years than taking up an apartment in some residential neighborhood that you’re not familiar with.”

Dahl found the former laundromat in Maspeth, Queens, in an online forum in 2019 and has been living in it since then.

Mickey Todiwala. Photo by CNBC Make It

Dahl found the former laundromat in Maspeth, Queens, in an online forum in 2019. A former tenant added a small kitchen that gives Dahl enough space to have a sink, stovetop, and toaster oven. The laundromat hasn’t been in working order since 2005.

When he first moved in March 2019, the rent was $1750, and he paid two months’ rent up front and an $875 security deposit. In 2021, his rent went up to $1850, and on average, he pays $120 for electricity and $60 for the internet.

Dahl is in production design, and one of the perks of the job is access to a lot of free furniture after the projects are done, so he’s used that to decorate the space.

“This space enables some [my] hoarding tendencies, but I try to be as decorative with it as possible,” Dahl says. “While most of the stuff is technically trash, and a lot of it was free, I try to curate it in the way that is most comfy to me.”

Dahl sleeps in a lofted bed that cost him $25 to make.

Mickey Todiwala. Photo by CNBC Make It

For Dahl, his favorite part of living in the former laundromat is the sense of community he gets from his neighbors because it reminds him of his childhood. The 27-year-old grew up on a commune in Texas that he described as “not a cult [but] a nonprofit humanitarian organization that did disaster relief and homeless outreach.”

“I think that really molded this kind of open door policy that I’ve had and maintained my adult life. That’s how my mom always lived,” he says.

It’s because of that philosophy that Dahl has made it so that his living space is open to others. He even has his fridge and communal swing out front. That community feeling has proved essential for Dahl, especially after he was mugged in the neighborhood a couple of months ago.

“People are looking out for me more than I’m looking out for myself, and that’s a true community. I knew true community as a child, and I know it again now,” he says.

Dahl has the space divided into different areas like the “songwriting” and “piano station” as it’s meant to be a place where creativities can come together.

Mickey Todiwala. Photo by CNBC Make It

Although Dahl loves the space he created, which also includes a songwriting and organ station, he says he only lives there because it’s what he can afford right now, but he hopes to move out and have it continue to be a collaborative studio space.

“It’ll just be an open store for whoever wants to come in and learn to paint or continue a painting or learn to record a song or continue a song. It’s for beginners and people who are already passionate about what they do,” Dahl says.

“Living in a storefront has taught me resourcefulness in a way I’ve never known before. I really can’t be too picky about what comes my way; I just have to make the best of it. And that’s the greatest skill I could ask for, he added.

“It’s nothing I could teach myself; it’s something you can only learn from life. That’s really in line with the life philosophy I have.”

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Sri Lanka marks independence anniversary amid economic woes



Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe attends the the country’s 75th Independence Day celebrations at Galle Face Green in Colombo, Sri Lanka February 4, 2023.

Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka marked its 75th independence anniversary on Saturday as a bankrupt nation, with many citizens angry, anxious and in no mood to celebrate.

Many Buddhists and Christian clergy had announced a boycott of the celebration in the capital, while activists and others expressed anger at what they see as a waste of money in a time of severe economic crisis.

Despite the criticism, armed troops paraded along the main esplanade in Colombo, showcasing military equipment as navy ships sailed in the sea and helicopters and aircraft flew over the city.

Catholic priest Rev. Cyril Gamini called this year’s ceremony commemorating independence from British rule a “crime and waste” at a time when the country is experiencing such economic hardship.

“We ask the government what independence they are going to proudly celebrate by spending a sum of 200 million rupees ($548,000),” said Gamini, adding the Catholic Church does not condone spending public money on the celebration and that no priest would attend the ceremony.

About 7% of Sri Lanka’s 22 million people in this Buddhist-majority nation are Christians, most of them Catholics. Despite being a minority, the church’s views are respected.

Prominent Buddhist monk Rev. Omalpe Sobitha said there is no reason to celebrate and that the ceremony is just an exhibition of weapons made in other countries.

Sri Lanka is effectively bankrupt and has suspended repayment of nearly $7 billion in foreign debt due this year pending the outcome of talks with the International Monetary Fund.

The country’s total foreign debt exceeds $51 billion, of which $28 billion has to be repaid by 2027. Unsustainable debt and a severe balance of payment crisis, on top of lingering scars from the COVID-19 pandemic, have led to a severe shortage of essentials such as fuel, medicine and food.

The shortages led to protests last year that forced then-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee the country and resign.

There have been signs of improvement under President Ranil Wickremesinghe, but power cuts continue due to the fuel shortages, hospitals face medicine shortages and the treasury is struggling to raise money to pay government employees’ salaries.

The economic crisis has made people angry and apathetic toward political leaders.

To manage the country’s expenses, the government has increased income taxes sharply and has announced a 6% cut in funds allocated to every ministry this year. Also, the military, which had swelled to more than 200,000 members amid a long civil war, will be downsized by nearly half by 2030.

A group of activists began a silent protest on Friday in the capital, condemning the government’s independence celebration and failure to ease the economic burden.

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Musk, Tesla not liable in securities class-action lawsuit



Tesla CEO Elon Musk and his security detail depart the company’s local office in Washington, January 27, 2023.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Elon Musk and Tesla were found not liable by a jury in a San Francisco federal court on Friday in a class-action securities fraud trial stemming from tweets Musk made in 2018.

The Tesla, SpaceX and Twitter CEO was sued by Tesla shareholders over a series of tweets he wrote in August 2018 saying he had “funding secured” to take the automaker private for $420 per share, and that “investor support” for such a deal was “confirmed.”

Trading in Tesla was halted after his tweets, and its share price remained volatile for weeks.

Jurors deliberated for less than two hours before reading their verdict. “We are disappointed with the verdict and considering next steps,” said Nicholas Porritt, partner at Levi & Korsinsky, the firm representing the shareholders in the class action, in an email to CNBC.

“I am deeply appreciative of the jury’s unanimous finding,” Musk wrote on Twitter.

Musk’s lead counsel, Alex Spiro of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, arguing before the jury earlier Friday, said the matter had to be assessed in context, noting the Tesla CEO was only considering taking the company private. He said fraud cannot be built on the back of a consideration.

Spiro did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The shareholders in the certified class-action lawsuit included a mix of stock and options buyers who alleged that Musk’s tweets were reckless and false, and that relying on his statements to make decisions about when to buy or sell cost them significant amounts of money.

Musk later claimed that he had a verbal commitment from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, and that he thought funding would come through at his proposed price based on a handshake. However, the deal never materialized.

During the course of this trial, Musk also said he would have sold shares of SpaceX to finance a going-private deal for Tesla, as well as taking funds from the Saudi Public Investment Fund.

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