This edition of the Blind Spot Wrap was compiled by Izabella Kaminska (IK) and Dario Garcia Giner (DGG).
Money, markets, and more:
- Bloomberg piece estimates just under 4.5mn families in the UK are in serious financial trouble.
- The Uber files released by the ICIJ outline Uber’s covert lobbying power over some Western politicians.
- An incredible thread about Chinese bank runs.
Et tu, Tory?
- The Telegraph reveals that, contrary to many a public comment, Sajid Javid pushed for a Christmas lockdown and mandatory Covid vaccines.
- Only four days following the tragedy of Shinzo Abe’s murder, his former party – the LDP – has just won a landslide election to Japan’s upper house on Monday.
The ruling coalition, led by the LDP, now has a greater than two-thirds majority in the upper and lower houses, the sum needed to modify the constitution. It would, however, require a majority of popular support in a national referendum to finalise any modification.
This is significant because the intent is to remove the pacifist clauses introduced by the Americans, which stipulates that land, sea and air forces “will never be maintained”. Changing the article was a life-long ambition for the hawkish Abe, says the FT. – DGG
Cold War part deux:
- Zelensky announced the dismissal of ambassadors to five nations, including India, Germany, the Czech Republic, Norway and Hungary.
Zelensky called these moves part of ‘normal diplomatic practice’. However, the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, in particular, aroused controversy last week when defending Stephan Bandera, a Ukrainian nationalist and Nazi collaborator. The move also comes amidst tensions between Ukraine and Germany surrounding a gas turbine under maintenance in Canada, which Germany is seeking to get returned to Russia – a move opposed by Ukraine, which claims such a move violates sanctions on Russia. On July 9, Canada clarified it would accede to German recommendations. – DGG
- Russia temporarily closes the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline to Europe due to scheduled maintenance operations. European outlets outline a widespread fear that Russia will use the maintenance to gain additional leverage in sanctions and gas payment negotiations, especially in anticipation of a very difficult winter for European energy supplies.
Buy or sell the dys-topia?
- A state of emergency was decreed in Lima, Peru to counteract ongoing nationwide protests, stirred by rising prices.
- Thousands of people in different Argentinian cities joined to protest the government of Alberto Fernandez and Vice President Cristina Kirchner, often marching to the chant of ‘Argentina without Cristina’.
- Albanian citizens took to protesting in Tirana on Thursday and called for the government to resign over increases in the price of food products, as well as alleged corruption issues.
- ICYMI a great piece by Bruegel links the Sri Lankan crisis to Chinese diplomacy.
- Biden’s approval rating has cratered to 30 per cent.
And err, there’s something about Hunter Biden and some quadruple-X-rated videos doing the rounds. Do not attempt to view though. It may take months to dissinfect your eyes.
What we want to know is when will the “serious” press start addressing the Biden China linkages properly?
If perchance reporters at major financial titles knew that the Hunter laptop stuff was verified and authentic before the 2020 election, or that stories were consciously not being published about it out of concern that access to the new administration might be limited or that Trump might win, I suspect they would really appreciate some parliamentary privilege to recount such insights. Not that this is something I have any personal insight into myself.
I do however think some sort of public inquiry into how the press has been handling itself in recent years regarding a whole slew of topics might be a good thing. – IK
- The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has recommended that a fourth Covid-19 vaccine be given to individuals over 60 years old.
Metaverse or reality?
- How the world fell into mass formation.
The summary is that technocratic states empower mass formation – IK.
- Behind the ‘madness‘ of Abba Voyage.
As an Abba fan I was obviously always going to try out the Abbatar experience. But even if you’re not an Abba fan, it’s a phenomenon worth experiencing. As the first incarnation of this sort of immersive holodeck technology, all it made me wonder was how much further can this tech go? At what point do we start to question everything because nobody can be sure if they’re seeing a hologram or a real person? – IK
- A newly discovered exploit named Rozena creates a ‘backdoor’ on your computer system through a corrupted Windows .docx file, which intriguingly uses Discord URLs to launch its attack. The use of a Discord URL for such an attack is similar to the recently found Saint Bot malware. Both examples of these recently discovered malware highlight a remarkable level of sophistication.
Odds and ends:
- UK-based company releases the ‘Axe’ eVTOL two-seater aircraft.
The Axe aims to sell as an alternative personal transportation vehicle to the wealthy.I’ve often been disappointed at how keen eVTOL manufacturers have been in dumping the previous centuries’ breakthroughs in aircraft design in the name of making something ‘droney’.
Just take a look at Jetson’s new personal eVTOL. Where are the aerodynamic lift surfaces?What I like about the Axe is that it has the sexiness of a Learjet with a Piper-Cub-like approach to practicality; a brutally simple fixed double-wing canopy, and powered by 8 engines – 2 per wing, as well as a last-ditch parachute, the system has suprisingly good redundancies.
I’ve always wondered what would happen in most of these personal drones should the power be cut off, considering their typical lack of aerodynamic surfaces.Regardless, in a space that is becoming increasingly crowded with mediocre, overcomplicated, or other such attempts at ‘breakthrough’ designs, the refreshing simplicity of the Axe, and its clear target market, makes me quite hopeful for this product. Having had the fortune of personally meeting the team, I wish Skyfly the best of luck! – DGG
- In Iran, Archeologists have unearthed what they consider the third-greatest ‘fire temple‘ of the Sassanid era of ancient Iran.
- Relatively old, but gold; an interesting video outlines the power of LiDAR technology in seeing through Amazonian canopies to discover ancient civilisations.