Coming Up This Week
Belarus votes for president today. Pres. Lukashenko—“Europe’s last dictator”—is running against the wife of an opposition activist who wasn’t allowed to run himself, and the wife has gone into hiding ahead of the election. Per The Economist: “Mr Lukashenko is certain to declare himself the winner, with a fat majority. What is much less certain this time is whether Belarusians will accept the result.”
Democratic nominee / Former VP Biden must be close to announcing his VP pick.
LME Commodity Spot Prices
Cobalt: $33,095/ton (this is a huge jump because supply disruptions are starting to affect the market now that stockpiles are depleted—prices have been flat around $28,500-$29,000/ton for months)
Gold: $2,021/toz (also a big jump)
Pres. Trump invoked four executive actions related to coronavirus relief after failing to come to agreement with Congressional Democrats on a stimulus bill. The four measures are: enhanced ($400/week) unemployment benefits, a payroll tax holiday for Americans making under $100k per year, housing payment assistance, and deferred student loan payments.
The WSJ reports that Twitter is also talking to TikTok about a possible acquisition, so Microsoft may face some competition.
Hong Kong’s Acting Privacy Commissioner accused the U.S. of “doxxing” Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the other officials it sanctioned last week because of the personal information (e.g. addresses, passport numbers) it released in the sanctions documents.
The loya jirga that Pres. Ghani convened to discuss the 400 remaining “hard-core” Taliban prisoners concluded to release them, and Ghani will sign the decree authorizing their release today. That was the last major hurdle to government-Taliban talks, so we should see talks soon.
A car bomb in Ghazni killed seven ANSF. The attack hasn’t been claimed yet—it sounds like a Taliban operation, but the Taliban is probably hesitant to boast about violence ahead of possible peace talks.
Nasrat Haqparast—one of only two Afghans fighting in UFC—beat American Alex Munoz in a unanimous decision last night.
After a brief sham trial, Venezuelan court sentenced former Green Berets Luke Denman and Airan Berry to 20 years each for allegedly attempting to overthrow Pres. Maduro.
Iran asked the UN to hold the U.S. accountable for intercepting an Iranian passenger plan over Syria last month—an “unlawful…adventurous act.” The U.S. maintains it was just conducting a “standard visual inspection.”
The head of Libya’s NOC warned of possible disaster at Libyan oil ports. Because Haftar’s LNA is blocking exports, port storage tanks are filled to the brim and could ignite to cause a blast like Beirut’s, he said.
Police and protesters are battling in the streets of Beirut. Protesters are demanding that the government step down, although there isn’t exactly a more competent / effective one behind it to take over.