This edition of the Blind Spot Wrap was compiled by Dario Garcia Giner.
Money and market matters:
- The internet went wild with memes after it discovered Jim Cramer was ringing the NASDAQ bell this Monday.
- Nancy Pelosi’s husband purchased $5mn in stock of Nvidia ahead of a bill that would hand subsidies to chip manufacturers. The bill is set to be voted on next week.
- All eyes on the Netflix earnings call this Tuesday.
- Mars is being sued in California over Skittles allegedly being ‘unfit for human consumption’ after titanium dioxide is discovered inside the confectionary item.
- Gazprom declares force majeure on some customers in Europe.
- China’s central bank has been injecting ever larger sums of liquidity via its open market operations.
- Beirut blast victims’ families file a $250mn lawsuit against US-Norwegian TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company, which is suspected of having brought explosive materials to the port.
Plaintiffs claim the US-Norwegian firm entered into “highly profitable but suspicious contracts with the Ministry of Energy in Lebanon.” TGS denies all the allegations filed in the Texan court. All of the victims referened in the suit are US citizens.
The company is being sued because it owns British Spectrum Geo, which chartered the original ship that deposited the ammonium nitrate at the Beirut Port which exploded on 4 August 2020. The suit claims the ship diverted to Beirut on Spectrum Geo’s request to collect seismic equipment before, somehow, offloading its ammonium nitrate into storage. A subsequent inspection by Beirut’s Port State Control found the ship unseaworthy and repatriated its crew – the ship remaining there until it sank on February 16, 2018.
TGS-NOPEC is an energy data and analytics company listed on the Oslo stock exchange, with its main footprint in Norway (Oslo) and operational headquarters in Houston, Texas. Spectrum Geo market themselves as providers of “professional advice and services, enabling clients to develop aspirations for schemes.” This company also appears to have a relatively low media profile. – DGG (Corrected – the company was incorrectly referred to as Geophysical Services Group in our linked article before a commenter corrected it as TGS-NOPEC)
- An upcoming movie may feature an image that Prince Andrew had pleaded the BBC not to publish.
- The Pope opens the door to his own retirement.
Pope Francis denied plans to retire soon, but mentioned he would like to find a church in Rome from which to continue hearing confessions.
The Pope also used this time to outline a seemingly Vatican-wide desire to more firmly regulate the characteristics of retired Popes; “in the future, things should be delineated more, or things should be made more explicit”.
There is also supposedly some annoyance in the Vatican at Pope Emeritus’ Benedict continuing to don the papacy’s white cassock and in keeping his papal name. – DGG
Geopolitical hot tubs
- Euronews reported the crash in Greece of an Antonov plane belonging to a Ukrainian airliner, Meridian, which was carrying arms from Serbia to Jordan.
The plane was allegedly headed to Jordan as part of a series of ‘technical stops’ in Amman, Riyadh, and Ahmedabad, on its way to the Bangladeshi military – to whom they would sell 11.5 tonnes of material.
A Serbian spokesperson rejected the notion the cargo was being shipped in violation of international permits related to arms trafficking, the sale consisting of “school mines intended to be used in training the Bangladeshi military”.
However, Greek authorities outlined concern at the potential presence of dangerous chemicals on the plane, instructing inhabitants of nearby localities to shut their wondows, remain in their homes, and wear masks. The explosions after the crash reportedly continued for hours – two Greek firefighters were hospitalised due to the toxic fumes emerging from the crash site. Greek national media outlined that Greece will lodge a complaint over the failure of Serbia to warn about the dangerous cargo on board the plane. – DGG
- Syrian and Ukrainian affairs continue to evolve in complex ways.
Syrian news outlets reported the Pentagon has officially requested permission to fund 3,500 fighters for Syria’s YPG-dominated SDF force in north-east and east Syria. This would take the total number of fighters being funded by this type of US assistance in Syria to 19,500.
On the topic of YPG-Assadist rapprochement, grassroots Syrian redditors are reporting the YPG is raising the Assadist flag and pictured of Bashar in Tal Rifaat — a region where YPG and Assad-aligned troops have joined to defend against the expected Turkish invasion. Speaking of the Turks, Turkish media has reported that Erdogan had postponed his visits to Venezuela, Argentina, and Mexico, to focus on the Syrian and Ukrainian conflicts; on July 19, leaders of Turkey, Iran and Russia will meet in Tehran to speak on Syria and the Ukraine war.
Alternatively, news that Zelensky had fired the head of the SBU and the state prosecutor general, leads to a critical point in Ukraine; any breakdown in unity on the Ukrainian side could manifest in political complications in Kyiv – DGG
Female equality, “Carry on” style:
- German women are now allowed topless in pools for the sake of gender equality.
From the “fake news” zone:
- Reddit links historic adverse medical and political events in South America to glyphosate poisoning in the region by Western corporate giants.
- Alexandra Ocasio Cortez has questioned the police’s role in the January 6 incident at the Capitol, noting that police officers may have collaborated with protesters; “there were actual officers working with this, and we never got to the bottom of that, and we never got any answers about that. And then, to this day, we’re just supposed to pretend that never happened.”
This echoes the frequently cited Trump supporter line that the whole thing may have been a sting to discredit the “Stop the Steal” movement.
Covid strikes back:
- Japan surpassed its previous high in Covid infections since February 5 this year, reaching 110,675 new cases this Saturday.
Some shooters don’t make it far:
- Gun-carrying man receives six-month sentence after being tackled to the ground in a shopping mall.
A Texan mall bore witness to the tackling of a man carrying a rifle and 120 rounds of ammunition by an off-duty cop. The individual was tackled while next to a nearby children’s dance competition.
Texan law meant that since the individual did not fire, he had to be let out on a disorderly conduct charge – only to be charged a month later for showing up at FBI headquarters and demanding to speak to the director.
- An armed citizen shot and killed an active shooter at an Indiana mall, where the individual had opened fire on a crowd and killed three.
But some shooters do:
- An armed fight between individuals leads to a shootout at Opium nightclub in Marbella in Spain, with one dead and four wounded.
As is typical of a Marbella shooting incidents, the incident featured bad alcohol, bad music, and a large number of unsuspecting bystanders. At one point, an overpriced magnum bottle was apparently flung in the fight.
The declining status of Marbella can be accurately charted with a correspondent increase in violence – as the original gangster dons-in-linen-suits that moved for the promise of amnesty under Franco have left, their younger, less secure underlings have begun moving in, increasingly causing mayhem.