Steemians - Check out my synopsis and curation below of significant global happenings during week 29. All sources have been provided in "Reference Links" section at the end of this synopsis. 2 new sections have been added to the weekly synopsis - Technocracy and Corporatocracy.
Let me know your feedback in the comments section below.
1. Update on Yemen War situation - The leader of the Ansar Allah movement (also known as the Houthis) in Yemen claims he will not reject the UN’s supervisory role in Hudaydah, but only if the Saudi-led coalition ends its weeks-long aggression against the Red Sea port city.
The Saudi-led alliance intervened in Yemen in March 2015, at the request of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to help restore the government’s power and push back the Houth-led alliance, after it took control of the capital Sanaa. Since then it has assisted in the recapturing of large parts of Southern Yemen. The current capital of the Saudi-backed government, the port city of Aden was one of those capture targets.
On July 21, Houthi fighters repelled a large attack of the Saudi-led coalition and its Yemeni proxies on their positions in the areas of Tabat al-Matar and al-Zighn in the central province of Ma’rib after killing and injuring dozens of Saudi-backed fighters, according to the Yemeni al-Masirah TV.
On July 20, warplanes of the Saudi-led coalition bombed a meeting of Houthi commanders in the district center of Nihm in the central province of Sanaa, according to the al-Arabiya TV. The UAE-based news TV channel added that four commanders of the Houthis were killed as a result of the coalition’s airstrike.
2. Turkey has lifted a state of emergency that has been in place for two years since the 2016 failed coup.The state of emergency was initially declared in Turkey after the failed coup attempt of July 2016, and has been repeatedly prolonged since then. On July 15, 2016, a military takeover attempt took place in Turkey, leaving over 240 people killed. Following the unrest, over 50,000 people were arrested, and more than 160,000 government officials and military officers were dismissed or suspended.
3. Trump - Putin Summit at Helsinki - After their initial meeting, the two leaders brought in their top aides for an expanded bilateral meeting, the next step in their first official summit, and then concluded with a joint news conference. According to Lavrov, the two presidents agreed on the creation of a de-escalation zone in southern Syria, where starting July 9 there will be a formal ceasefire. Russia and the US took it upon themselves to ensure that all armed groups abide by it. This is not much of a positive development for Syria, since it is only a local ceasefire covering a small part of the country. It is also doubtful that Russia and the US will be able to make sure it is observed. By contrast, more important substantial questions, such as the establishing of no-fly zones, were not really addressed.
The US President proclaimed in front of Putin that "there was no collusion" during the 2016 campaign and said he "beat Hillary Clinton easily."
3. Ireland steps up for Brexit - The Irish government is expected to agree this week on a plan to move all of the Republic’s oil reserves out of the UK as Ireland steps up its preparations for Brexit, Ireland’s Sunday Independent reported. Under the plan, seen as one of the most significant Brexit decisions for Ireland so far, Ireland will transfer the nearly 200,000 tons of oil out of British refineries and back into Ireland or other EU member states, as the UK is preparing to leave the European Union bloc.Under the EU’s Oil Stocks Directive, EU countries must keep emergency stocks of crude oil and/or petroleum products equal to at least 90 days of net imports or 61 days of consumption, whichever is higher.
4. Saudi Arabia, one of three GCC members blockading fellow member state Qatar, is planning the Salwa Canal, a 60km-long channel which would effectively make Qatar an island. The proposed canal would run through Saudi territory across the entire base of the Qatar Peninsula, officially creating a new sea lane and providing opportunities for tourism. Yet by physically slicing Qatar off from the coast of Arabia, the canal would also create a 60-kilometer-long, 200-meter-wide symbol of the now 14-month old Gulf Crisis.
5. Chinese shipbuilders are constructing eight new submarines to protect its ally Pakistan with an aim to counter India. Currently, Pakistan’s Navy has ten subs, which suggests their submarine fleet could expand by 80 percent upon delivery, expected in the mid to late 2020s. India’s underwater warfare program is perceived to be far superior to Pakistan. As of now, India has sixteen submarines while Pakistan has about ten. However, China wants to scale up Pakistan’s underwater warfare capabilities to defend the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
1. Trade war getting real - American companies, or foreign firms' US-based subsidiaries, are already complaining about the negative impact that tariffs are expected to have. Here's a roundup of the headlines from Bloomberg, with link. Only two of the references - Kloeckner's and Ryerson's - have been positive.
Procter & Gamble: Cites ‘meaningful’ impact of tariffs on a handful of products in Canada, which accounts for 3% of global sales
Kloeckner: Steel trader raises earnings forecast on higher U.S. prices
General Motors: Could be forced to cut U.S. jobs if tariffs are applied to imported vehicles and auto parts.
Volvo Cars: Owner Li Shufu says cars will cost more as trade wars escalate
Ryerson: Metal processor’s sales guidance exceeds estimates in part because of higher anticipated demand from inventory dislocations tied to tariffs
Osram: Trade tensions will weaken sales of automotive lighting parts
Brown-Forman: Raised Jack Daniel’s prices in light of EU tariffs
Harley-Davidson: Plans to move production overseas, sees EU tariff costs of $100 million annually
Daimler: Cut profit forecast on U.S.-China trade fight
Tyson Foods: ‘Day-to-day uncertainty’ in delivering products and services
MillerCoors: Brewer says profit could fall by $40 million depending on how much aluminum prices rise
2. Russia continues its ditch dollar mission - Russia liquidated a whopping half of Russia's Treasury holdings, which declined by $47.4BN to just $48.7BN - the lowest since 2008 - from $96BN in March. In just two months, Russia sold a whopping $81BN in treasurys, a liquidation flow that was likely responsible for much if not all the blow out in rates over the period.
3. China's Corporate default problem worsens - As I reported in week 23, China has a big problem when it comes to corporate defaults in 2018. With the collapse of coal mining giant Wintime Energy that had taken advantage of China's wave of cheap and easily accessible credit, mass defaults is becoming a staple in China's massively overleveraged economy.
4. Pakistan curbs imports amid a foreign exchange crisis - The economy faces a potential collapse as foreign currency reserves fall below $9.5 billion. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has moved to curb the country’s bulging import bill to ease pressure on its dwindling foreign exchange reserves. Reserves have tumbled to US$9.5 billion, less than enough to pay for one month’s worth of imports, representing a major crisis for South Asia’s second largest economy.
1. Coinbase flipflop - Crypto exchange and wallet Coinbase has retracted its previous statement that it received approval from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to trade in securities. Last week, Coinbase reported that it could now operate as a broker dealer, offering digital tokens considered to be securities, after its acquisition last month of Keystone Capital Corp., Venovate Marketplace Inc., and Digital Wealth LLC.
Last week, the San Francisco-based exchange announced that it is exploring the addition of five new coins to its trading lists, including Cardano (ADA), Basic Attention Token (BAT), Stellar Lumens (XLM), Zcash (ZEC), and 0x (ZRX). Coinbase noted that it does not guarantee the new tokens will be listed for trading.
2. Court hearing to see India ‘take more time’ on crypto ruling - The Supreme Court hearing, filed by Indian crypto exchanges against an earlier central bank ban, could see virtual currencies treated as commodities. The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) crypto banking ban was implemented in early April of this year, and prohibits local banks from providing services to any person or business that deals with cryptocurrencies.
3. Mastercard trying to centralize the decentralized - The American payment services may be trying to compete with Ripple and IBM who already offer centralized financial blockchain solutions. The newly-approved patent by Mastercard is for a system that uses blockchain to link digital assets to fiat-currency-based accounts while also speeding up transactions.
4. Iran’s central bank has banned the country’s banks from dealing in crypto-currencies because of money-laundering concerns, the state news agency IRNA reported on Sunday. The news comes, however, as Iran’s currency hit an all-time low. Since September 2017 the rial has weakened against the US dollar by more than 60% as the United States Treasury continues to levy strict economic sanctions against Iranian entities and the country is now witnessing a black market dollar-buying rush.
1. Soldiers of the future - Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, or TRADOC, drafted a new strategy for how soldiers will operate, fight, and campaign successfully across multiple domains—space, cyberspace, air, land, maritime—against all enemies (Russia and China) in the 2025-2040 timeframe. The army is testing and prototyping self-generating “Ironman-like” soldier exoskeletons. These “breakthrough” suits are designed to transform the combat mission by supporting soldier movements, generating electricity, powering weapons systems and substantially lowering the weight burden of what soldiers carry on the modern battlefield.
The future soldier would mentally link up with the various weapons systems at their disposal, as DARPA'snew program states. For example- transcranial magnetic stimulation that could be added to soldiers’ helmets as a way of altering their brain activity. Disturbingly, this would also be a two-way system that could enable the systems to transmit information back to the soldier as well.
Remotely controlled super soldiers wearing self-powered exoskeletons- quite the dystopia, eh?
2. Space war with Russia next on the horizon - Russia is developing a new electronic warfare aircraft, which can degrade the effectiveness of American spy satellites or render them entirely useless by using advanced radar jamming technology mounted on the exterior of the plane. This machine will receive a fundamentally new onboard equipment, which will allow to conduct electronic suppression of any targets — ground, air, sea — and disable enemy satellites that provide navigation and radio communication on the ground. If Russia can, in fact, disable the electronics on American spy satellites, then, this could be detrimental to the Pentagon’s nuclear command, control, and constellations of communication satellites. Such systems include the Pentagon’s legacy NC3 constellation of satellites, the Military Strategic and Tactical Relay (MILSTAR) satellites, and the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellites.
3. The GDPR rules were designed to protect European consumers from data violations by big tech companies, Result of GDPR? Summing it up in one word would probably be: chaos. As the trillions of e-mails that were sent around the globe showed, no one really understands what the rules are all about – or what to do about it.
On the day the rules came into effect, several US pages panickingly switched off their platforms in EU countries, among them the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, and Orlando Sentinel. But not only newspapers have blocked Europeans ever since: the list also includesShoes.com,Instapaper, and the History Channel. Meanwhile, ad companies, being hit the most by the new rules, have pulled out of the EU altogether, including Drawbridge and Verve , citing the GDPR as the reason that they can’t continue their business on the Continent anymore. Those staying have had to incur gigantic costs: British companies have reportedly sunk 1.1 billion dollars, and Americans 7.8 billion in preparation for GDPR.
4. All over the western world banks are shutting down cash machines and branches. Financial institutions, are trying to nudge us towards a cashless society and digital banking. The true motive is corporate profit. Payments companies such as Visa and Mastercard want to increase the volume of digital payments services they sell, while banks want to cut costs. The nudge requires two parts. First, they must increase the inconvenience of cash, ATMs and branches. Second, they must vigorously promote the alternative. They seek to make people “learn” that they want digital, and then “choose” it.
1. More behavioral nudging - Google was fined a mere $5 billion by the European Union and ordered to change the way it puts search and web browser apps on Android mobile devices in a global record for antitrust penalties, ABC News reported.
According to EU officials, Google’s terms for licensing its full-featured version of its Android OS, requires device makers to pre-install Google apps like Chrome, YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps, and the Play Store. This agreement violates antitrust laws and puts competing products at an unfair disadvantage, they stated.
2. Wells Fargo is now being called out for adding opaque products to the accounts of hundreds of thousands of customers - for services like pet insurance and legal services - without first explaining how to use them. In most cases, customers were aware that the products were being added to their bills. But billing, and the bank's instructions about how to access them, remained opaque.
3. Comcast Corp. (the cable company and corporate parent of NBCUniversal) has officially ended its pursuit of 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets and will instead focus on its offer for Sky. By backing off, the cable giant is clearing the way for an epic bromance between Fox's Rupert Murdoch and Disney CEO Bob Iger amid speculation that the House of Mouse's offer of Disney stock would be more lucrative for the Murdoch family than Comcast's cash bid, per the Washington Post.
4. Amazon will account for accounts for 49.1% of all online retail sales, up from 43% the year before, if they clear an expected $258 billion in sales this year. Ebay comes a distant 2nd with only 6% of the mrket share. The most popular category on Amazon is consumer electronics and tech, with projected sales of $65.82 billion according to eMarketer; around a quarter of total turnover. Second in line is apparel and accessories, which should account for roughly $39.88 billion, followed by health, personal care and beauty with $16 billion. In last place is food and beverage trailing at $4.75 billion.
Amazon said Prime Day 2018 sales grew more than 60%, breaking last year's record and surpassing Amazon's Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as well as the previous Prime Day. The company had also added "tens of millions of Prime members" to its platform, who purchased more than 100 million products for the first time ever.
Miscellaneous / Of Note
1. Global Population Growth Ceased in 1988...Population Has Only Grown Older Since. For the high income countries, peak annual growth in the child bearing population took place as of 1963, but the total child bearing population didn't peak until 2009. The population capable of child birth will continue falling through at least 2030 and likely far longer. The upper middle income countries peak annual growth took place as of 1985 and the total child bearing population also turned negative in 2009...and again will continue declining indefinitely. Since 2000, total births are declining everywhere except Africa.
My Pick of the week : Cartoon / Meme
Source : Imgur
My Pick of the week : Reading
My Pick of the week: Video
My Pick of the week: Interview
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