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BLACKWATER USA | DAILY BRIEF


Coming Up This Week


*       U.S. states will continue to reopen from lockdowns this week, and

several U.S. economic data points will give insight into the nature and pace

of recovery: May consumer confidence on Tuesday, weekly jobless claims on

Thursday, April inflation and personal spending figures on Friday, etc.

*       China's annual National People's Congress started last Friday, and

continues this week. It's shorter than usual, and was delayed two months

because of the pandemic.




LME Commodity Spot Prices


*       Aluminum: $1,473/ton

*       Copper: $5,243/ton

*       Cobalt: $29,500/ton

*       Gold: $1,735/toz




China


*       Thousands of demonstrators came out to protest China's new national

security law for Hong Kong, and police met them with tear gas. The protests

are technically illegal under social distancing rules that bar gatherings of

more than eight people.

*       The U.S. sanctioned 33 new Chinese entities: 24 for "supporting

procurement of items for military end-use in China," and nine for their

roles in human rights violations in Xinjiang. The South China Morning Post

called this "the lowest point in U.S.-China relations."

*       China's State Councillor, Wang Yi, bluntly suggested that the U.S.

stop wasting its time blaming China for coronavirus and instead focus on

fighting the pandemic: "If you want to infringe upon China's sovereignty and

dignity with indiscriminate litigation, and extort the fruits of the hard

work of the Chinese people, I am afraid this is a daydream and you'll only

humiliate yourself."




Afghanistan


*       The Taliban and Afghan government announced a three-day ceasefire

for Eid, starting today. Both sides have been instructed to avoid offensives

and only defend if attacked.

*       Pres. Ghani also said the government would expedite Taliban prisoner

releases, which stopped earlier this month when the Taliban stepped up its

attacks.

*       The government estimates that the Taliban killed 146 civilians-and

wounded 430 more-during Ramadan.




Libya


*       Khalifa Haftar pledged he would continue his offensive on Tripoli,

and warned that his LNA considers every "Turkish wicked mercenary" in Libya

a legitimate target.

*       However, it sounds like the GNA continues to make progress beating

the LNA back: the GNA says it has recaptured several of the LNA's military

camps around Tripoli from Wagner Group mercenaries defending them.




Venezuela


*       The first of five Iranian fuel tankers reached Venezuelan waters

with no apparent threat from the U.S. That corroborates speculation that the

U.S. would respond with sanctions to try to prevent repeat deliveries,

rather than by intercepting these initial shipments.




Iran


*       Pres. Rouhani thinks Iran needs to develop a strategy to encourage

cryptocurrency mining-in part to evade U.S. sanctions, which make it hard

for Iran to sell its oil for USD. Rouhani wants the government to consider

loosening rules and tax requirements for Iranian mining operations as part

of the strategy.




North Korea


*       Kim Jong Un made his first public appearance in three weeks

yesterday when he hosted a military meeting. South Korean intelligence

maintains that-contrary to Western speculation-Kim did not have a major

surgery, but is rather isolating himself because of coronavirus. Either way,

it looks like he's very much alive and back to dictatorial business.

*       New state media reports say Kim wants to boost North Korea's

"nuclear war deterrence," whatever that means (probably more nuclear and

missile tests).




Strategic Minerals


*       Workers at China Moly's Tenke Fungurume copper / cobalt mine are

striking for better pay, given that they've had to work in isolation since

March 24. They want an extra $100/day, plus a $4k bonus to return to work.

The mine is one of the biggest in DRC: it produced 117,956 tons of copper

and 16,098 tons of cobalt in 2019.

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