After a relatively quiet start to the year on the economic event front, if not in markets where last week's FOMC Minutes sparked the worst bond rout since 2020 triggering the worst first week for the Nasdaq since the dot com bubble burst...
... we have a "simply a massive week ahead for markets" according to Nomura's Charlie McElligott, with Powell testimony and bunches of Fed speakers, along with US economic releases headlined by the market’s most important datapoint in the CPI release Wednesday, in addition to PPI, Retail Sales and Consumer Sentiment over the course of the week, plus two Duration-heavy auctions ($36B of 10Y and $22B 30Y, on top of tomorrow’s $52B 3Y) and finally, US corporate earnings season kickoff (highlighted by JPM, C and WFC this upcoming Friday)
Picking up the weekly preview baton, Rabobank writes that there will be little opportunity not to think about the Fed in the week ahead. The Bloomberg market consensus for Wednesday’s US December CPI inflation release stands at an astounding 7% y/y. This blows out of the water the 5.6% y/y cyclical high recorded in July 2008, and would be just a hair below the 7.1% y/y high of June 1982. The Fed goes into pre-FOMC blackout at the weekend and all this week’s Fedspeak will therefore be very closely watched as the committee are moving very rapidly at the moment towards an ever tightening bias in their commentary. Even the doves are coming over to the other side.
US December PPI inflation data due on Thursday will likely turn the inflation thermostat up another notch or two. Later in the week, the University of Michigan inflation expectations survey will be watched closely and used to judge to what degree to Fed may have fallen behind the curve. That said, US retail sales data are expected to soften in December on the back of supply shortages and possibly as a result of Omicron. Several G10 central banks have suggested that the impact of this variant of Covid is unlikely to throw their respective economic recoveries off-course. However, it remains a threat and, in the US, fears about the impact of the fiscal cliff are also in the background. In addition to a slew of data releases, the coming week will bring another new earnings season and a rich line up of Fed speakers. Among them will be Mester, George and Bullard; all hawks and all voting members of the FOMC this year. The Senate confirmation hearings for Fed Chair Powell and Vice-Chair Brainard will enhance the focus on the Fed this week.
Eurozone CPI inflation unexpectedly hit 5% y/y in December last week. ECB Chief economist Lane issued fresh reassurances on Friday that this current level of prices is part of the pandemic inflation cycle and that inflation will come down this year. Friday also saw the Bundesbank formally appointing Nagel as its new head. According to Germany’s Finance Minister Lindner, Nagel will ensure “continuity”. This suggests that it may not be long before Nagel issues a few hawkish remarks in an attempt to reconcile Germany’s historic fear of price pressures with the ECB’s continued dovish stance. Eurozone economic data releases this week include November industrial production and trade. Given the subsequent wave of Omicron both may be little outdated to provide much market fresh impetus.
Better news on Omicron continues to come from the UK. As the number of new cases continues to slip, Education Minister Zahawi has suggested that the UK could set an example of how to move from a pandemic to an endemic by cutting the isolation period to five days to ease pressures in the workforce. Given signs that the symptoms of Omicron may be less deadly than those of Delta, PM Johnson may have got away with his light touch restrictions for England over the holiday period. That said, his appeasement of his backbenchers may not have gone far enough. Yesterday, the PM was urged by MP Harper, Chair of the lockdown-sceptic Tory Recovery Group, to end all Covid related restrictions by the end of this month, or face a massive revolt within the party and the prospect of a leadership challenge later this year.
UK PM Johnson’s insistence that Brexit is ‘done’ has always been controversial. UK officials continue to grapple to put together new free trade deals and the full impact of Brexit is unlikely to be known for a generation. For Northern Ireland in particular Brexit appears to be far from ‘done’. Following the shock resignation last month of former Brexit Secretary Frost, Foreign Secretary Truss has taken over the role of negotiator with Brussels. Ahead of her first meeting with the EU’s Sefcovic, Truss has reignited the threat that the UK would be prepared to trigger Article 16 and find a unilateral solution for Northern Ireland if a negotiated compromise cannot be found. Northern Ireland’s membership of the EU’s single market has made trade difficult between the region and the British mainland. 2022 is a key election year for Northern Ireland with polls showing unionist parties on course to lose their majority for the first time since the partition of the island. By triggering Article 16, the UK could find itself on a path towards a trade war with the EU. UK economic data releases this week include November monthly GDP and production figures.
US and Russian officials are set to meet today for talks aimed as de-escalating tensions around Ukraine. Secretary of State Blinken commented over the weekend that he does not expect any breakthroughs this week but is hoping to find grounds for moving forward.
On Sunday evening Kazak officials retracted a statement alleging that more than 164 people had died during the recent wave of violence and instead confirmed ‘only’ 22 deaths. Blinken criticised President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s shoot-to-kill order remarking that it “is wrong and should be rescinded." The violence was triggered by the removal of a price cap that resulted in a surge in fuel prices. However, the uprising comes against the backdrop of general discontent with how the country is governed. As such global financial markets may be eying the developments in Kazakhstan as many other countries, notably also in the developing world, are currently grappling with rising energy and food prices, which have the potential to trigger unrest across the globe.
Elsewhere we start US earnings season, albeit slowly and late in the week with some important financials reporting: the highlights include Delta Air Lines on Thursday, before we hear from Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and BlackRock on Friday.
Here is a quick look at key evens this week:
Monday January 10
- Data: Euro Area November unemployment rate, Italy November unemployment rate
Tuesday January 11
- Data: Japan preliminary November leading index, Italy November retail sales, US December NFIB small business optimism index
- Central Banks: Nomination hearing for Fed Chair Powell’s second term at Senate Banking Committee, Fed’s Mester, George and Bullard speak
Wednesday January 12
- Data: China December CPI, PPI, Euro Area November industrial production, US December CPI, monthly budget statement
- Central Banks: Federal Reserve releases Beige Book, BoJ Governor Kuroda speaks
Thursday January 13
- Data: Japan preliminary December machine tool orders, Italy November industrial production, US December PPI, weekly initial jobless claims, Japan December PPI (23:50 UK time)
- Central Banks: Nomination hearing for Governor Brainard as Fed Vice Chair at Senate Banking Committee, Fed’s Barkin and Evans speak
- Earnings: Delta Air Lines
Friday January 14
- Data: China December trade balance, UK November GDP, US December retail sales, capacity utilisation, industrial production, preliminary January University of Michigan consumer sentiment index
- Central Banks: Bank of Korea monetary policy decision, Fed’s Williams speaks
- Earnings: Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, BlackRock
* * *
Finally, courtesy of Goldman, here is a look at just the US, where the key economic data releases this week are the CPI report on Wednesday and the retail sales report on Friday. There are several speaking engagements from Fed officials this week, including Chair Powell and Governor Brainard’s confirmation hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.
Monday, January 10
- 10:00 AM Wholesale inventories, November final (consensus +1.2%, last +1.2%)
Tuesday, January 11
- 06:00 AM NFIB small business optimism, December (consensus 98.5, last 98.4)
- 09:12 AM Cleveland Fed President Mester (FOMC voter) speaks: Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester will speak in an interview on Bloomberg Television. In her last public appearance, on December 1st, President Mester emphasized her view that “with the inflation data the way it is and with the job market as strong as it is”, the Fed should be in a position to “raise rates a couple of times next year.” Since President Mester’s remarks, labor market data has pointed to further tightening in the labor market, and inflation data has surprised to the upside.
- 09:30 AM Kansas City Fed President George (FOMC voter) speaks: Kansas City Fed President Esther George will discuss her outlook for the economy and monetary policy. Audience Q&A is expected. President George has not made public remarks since November 5th, when she stressed that “the argument for patience in the face of these inflation pressures has diminished.”
- 10:00 AM Fed Chair Powell’s confirmation hearing (FOMC voter): Fed Chair Jerome Powell will appear before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs for his confirmation hearing for his re-nomination to the role of Chair. Chair Powell’s re-appointment will preserve continuity at the Fed. As inflationary pressures continue and the labor market continues to tighten, we will be looking for indications of incremental changes to Chair Powell’s outlook in his testimony.
- 04:00 PM St. Louis Fed President Bullard (FOMC voter) speaks: St. Louis Fed President James Bullard will discuss the economy and monetary policy in a virtual event with the Mid-Sized Bank Coalition of America. President Bullard made public remarks earlier this week, in which he argued that the FOMC “could begin increasing the policy rate as early as the March meeting in order to be in a better position to control inflation” and start balance sheet runoff “shortly after lifting off the policy rate.”
Wednesday, January 12
- 08:30 AM CPI (mom), December (GS +0.53%, consensus +0.4%, last +0.8%); Core CPI (mom), December (GS +0.58%, consensus +0.5%, last +0.5%); CPI (yoy), December (GS +7.12%, consensus +7.0%, last +6.8%); Core CPI (yoy), December (GS +5.49%, consensus +5.4%, last +4.9%): We estimate a 0.58% increase in December core CPI (mom sa), which would boost the year-on-year rate by 0.6pp to 5.5%. Our forecast reflects a further rise in used car auction prices and related upward pressure on new car prices. We also assume upward pressure on other core goods categories due to supply chain bottlenecks and low promotionality during the holiday season. While Omicron likely weighed on travel prices late in the month, we expect a more visible impact in the January report. We estimate rent +0.43% and OER +0.40% in December, reflecting the strength in our shelter tracker but an OER drag from imputed utilities. Health insurance prices also likely rose again, reflecting the gradual flow-through of the annual source data. We estimate a 0.53% increase in headline CPI (mom sa), reflecting rising food costs but a pullback in energy prices.
- 01:00 PM Minneapolis Fed President Kashkari (FOMC non-voter) speaks: Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari will speak on interest rates, labor force participation, and bringing the labor market back to pre-pandemic strength at a St. Paul Area Chamber townhall event. Audience Q&A is expected. Earlier this week, President Kashkari argued that “using core inflation to indicate when we have reached maximum employment may be simpler than the more judgmental estimations of short-run vs. long-run maximum employment,” and that, while he believed inflationary pressures would eventually subside, “the costs of ending up in the high-inflation regime are likely larger than the costs of ending up back in the low-inflation regime.”
- 02:00 PM Beige Book: The Fed’s Beige Book is a summary of regional economic anecdotes from the 12 Federal Reserve districts. In this Beige Book, we look for anecdotes related to wage growth, price inflation, and supply chain disruptions. Earlier this week, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari noted that business contacts in his region continued to warn of labor shortages. Since President Kashkari’s comments, Friday’s employment report surprised to the upside on average hourly earnings and to the downside on payrolls.
Thursday, January 13
- 08:30 AM PPI final demand, December (GS +0.4%, consensus +0.4%, last +0.8%); PPI ex-food and energy, December (GS +0.5%, consensus +0.5%, last +0.7%); PPI ex-food, energy, and trade, December (GS +0.5%, consensus +0.5%, last +0.7%): We estimate a 0.5% increase for PPI ex-food and energy and PPI ex-food, energy and trade services, which would bring the year-on-year rates to +9.4% and +7.0% respectively. Our forecast reflects a continued boost from supply chain bottlenecks, labor shortages, and commodity prices. We estimate that headline PPI increased by 0.4% in December, which would bring the year-on-year rate to +9.8%, reflecting firm core inflation but a sequential decline in energy prices. Continued increases in input costs, along with strong profit margins, are one reason why we expect price pressures to remain elevated through the first half of 2022.
- 08:30 AM Initial jobless claims, week ended January 8 (GS 195k, consensus 200k, last 207k); Continuing jobless claims, week ended January 1 (consensus 1,760k, last 1,754k): We estimate initial jobless claims declined to 195k in the week ended January 8.
- 10:00 AM Fed Governor Brainard’s confirmation hearing (FOMC voter): Fed Governor Lael Brainard will appear before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs for her confirmation hearing for her nomination to the role of Vice Chair. Governor Brainard, one of the more dovish members on the FOMC, has not given a public speech since October 13th, so in her confirmation hearing we will be looking for further insight into her current stance and expectations for policy normalization.
- 12:00 PM Richmond Fed President Barkin (FOMC non-voter) speaks: Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin will discuss the economic outlook at an event hosted by the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. In his last public appearance, on December 2nd, President Barkin said he expected “the readings for inflation over the next year … to be messy,” and that he supported normalizing monetary policy as the FOMC was doing.
- 01:00 PM Chicago Fed President Evans (FOMC non-voter) speaks: Chicago Fed President Charles Evans will discuss the economy and monetary policy at an event hosted by the Milwaukee Business Journal. Audience and moderated Q&A are expected. President Evans noted on November 18th that he still thought “the relative price increases coming from supply shocks will be diminishing, and … that the inflation data by the end of 2022 is going to be a lot closer to 2% than so many people think.”
- 06:00 PM Dallas Fed holds townhall on search for next President: The Dallas Fed will host a virtual townhall discussion on the ongoing search to choose its next President.
Friday, January 14
- 08:30 AM Retail sales, December (GS -0.5%, consensus -0.1%, last +0.3%); Retail sales ex-auto, December (GS -0.3%, consensus +0.2%, last +0.3%); Retail sales ex-auto & gas, December (GS -0.3%, consensus -0.1%, last +0.2%); Core retail sales, December (GS -0.2%, consensus +0.1%, last -0.1%): We estimate a 0.2% decline in core retail sales (ex-autos, gasoline, and building materials) in December (mom sa). While brick and mortar shopping activity picked up in the final weeks of the holiday season, we estimate a sequential decline in the nonstore category (mom sa). Relatedly, the elevated level of retail sales implies a high hurdle for incremental growth during the holiday season. We estimate a 0.5% decline in headline retail sales, reflecting the decline in auto sales.
- 08:30 AM Import price index, December (consensus +0.2%, last +0.7%): Export price index, December (consensus +0.3%, last +1.0%)
- 09:15 AM Industrial production, December (GS -1.0%, consensus +0.2%, last +0.5%); Manufacturing production, December (GS +0.5%, consensus +0.4%, last +0.7%); Capacity utilization, December (GS 76.0%, consensus 77.0%, last 76.8%): We estimate industrial production declined by 1.0% in December, reflecting declines in utilities and oil and gas extraction. We estimate capacity utilization declined by 0.8pp to 76.0%. We estimate a modest seasonally-adjusted increase in motor vehicle production in December, but expect production to remain well below its pre-pandemic level, reflecting continued supply-chain disruptions that may be further exacerbated by the Omicron wave in coming months.
- 10:00 AM University of Michigan consumer sentiment, January preliminary (GS 68.6, consensus 70.0, last 70.6): We expect the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index declined by 2.0pt to 68.6 in the preliminary January reading, reflecting declines in other confidence measures and increase spread of the Omicron variant.
- 10:00 AM Business inventories, November (consensus +1.2%, last +1.2%)
- 11:00 AM New York Fed President Williams (FOMC voter) speaks: New York Fed President John Williams will give a virtual speech to the Council on Foreign Relations. Text, and audience and moderated Q&A are expected. On December 17th, President Williams emphasized that inflation expectations were “a little higher in our projections now, especially for next year,” and noted that “raising interest rates would be a sign of a positive development in terms of where we are in the economic cycle.”
Source: Nomura, Rabobank, BofA, DB, Goldman
Nigerian gov supports AI initiatives with $290K in grants
The recently introduced Nigeria Artificial Intelligence Research Scheme is designed to facilitate the widespread utilization of AI to drive economic advancement.
The recently introduced Nigeria Artificial Intelligence Research Scheme is designed to facilitate the widespread utilization of AI to drive economic advancement.
The Nigerian Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, revealed on Friday, Oct.13, that the Federal Government intends to grant a sum of $6,444 (5 million naira) each to 45 artificial intelligence (AI) focused startups and researchers. This figure makes a total of $289,980 (225 million naira) being given out for the purpose of AI.
This information was disclosed by the minister in a post on X. The recently introduced Nigeria Artificial Intelligence Research Scheme is designed to facilitate the widespread utilization of Artificial Intelligence to drive economic advancement.
As outlined on the scheme's official website, the focal areas encompass Agriculture, Education and Workforce, Finance, Governance, Healthcare, Utility and Sustainability. To be eligible for the grant, applicants are required to form a consortium, comprising a startup or tech company, a researcher from a Nigerian university, or a foreign researcher, as stated by the Ministry.
To support the mainstreaming of the application of Artificial Intelligence for economic prosperity, we’ve launched the Nigeria Artificial Intelligence Research Scheme to fund 45 consortia of startups and researchers to allow them explore further opportunities to deepen their… pic.twitter.com/CaD5Vqs8Du— Dr. 'Bosun Tijani (@bosuntijani) October 13, 2023
Applicants should present a research proposal in line with the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy's AI focus areas. Furthermore, they must provide a comprehensive project proposal that highlights the project's potential economic impact in Nigeria.
In addition, a proven track record of excellence in research or entrepreneurship is a requirement. Finally, applicants are expected to publish at least one peer-reviewed article within one year of grant receipt.
In August, the Nigerian government extended an invitation to scientists of Nigerian heritage, as well as globally renowned experts who have worked within the Nigerian market, to collaborate in the formulation of its National Artificial Intelligence Strategy.
The application period commences on Oct.13, 2023, and concludes on Nov. 15, 2023. All submissions should be made through the specified online platform. The Ministry has indicated that a panel of AI specialists will assess the proposals. Those who make it to the shortlist will receive email notifications and be invited for interviews.grants china
Escobar: The Geopolitics Of Al-Aqsa Flood
Escobar: The Geopolitics Of Al-Aqsa Flood
Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Cradle,
Global focus just shifted from Ukraine to Palestine. This…
Global focus just shifted from Ukraine to Palestine. This new arena of confrontation will ignite further competition between the Atlanticist and Eurasian blocs. These fights are increasingly zero-sum ones; as in Ukraine, only one pole can emerge strengthened and victorious.
Hamas’ Operation Al-Aqsa Flood was meticulously planned. The launch date was conditioned by two triggering factors.
First was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flaunting his 'New Middle East' map at the UN General Assembly in September, in which he completely erased Palestine and made a mockery of every single UN resolution on the subject.
Second are the serial provocations at the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, including the straw that broke the camel’s back: two days before Al-Aqsa Flood, on 5 October, at least 800 Israeli settlers launched an assault around the mosque, beating pilgrims, destroying Palestinian shops, all under the observation of Israeli security forces.
Everyone with a functioning brain knows Al-Aqsa is a definitive red line, not just for Palestinians, but for the entire Arab and Muslim worlds.
It gets worse. The Israelis have now invoked the rhetoric of a “Pearl Harbor.” This is as threatening as it gets. The original Pearl Harbor was the American excuse to enter a world war and nuke Japan, and this “Pearl Harbor” may be Tel Aviv’s justification to launch a Gaza genocide.
Sections of the west applauding the upcoming ethnic cleansing – including Zionists posing as “analysts” saying out loud that the “population transfers” that began in 1948 “must be completed” – believe that with massive weaponry and massive media coverage, they can turn things around in short shrift, annihilate the Palestinian resistance, and leave Hamas allies like Hezbollah and Iran weakened.
Their Ukraine Project has sputtered, leaving not just egg on powerful faces, but entire European economies in ruin.
Yet as one door closes, another one opens: Jump from ally Ukraine to ally Israel, and hone your sights on adversary Iran instead of adversary Russia.
There are other good reasons to go all guns blazing.
A peaceful West Asia means Syria reconstruction – in which China is now officially involved; active redevelopment for Iraq and Lebanon; Iran and Saudi Arabia as part of BRICS 11; the Russia-China strategic partnership fully respected and interacting with all regional players, including key US allies in the Persian Gulf.
Incompetence. Willful strategy. Or both.
That brings us to the cost of launching this new “war on terror.” The propaganda is in full swing. For Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Hamas is ISIS. For Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev, Hamas is Russia. Over one October weekend, the war in Ukraine was completely forgotten by western mainstream media. Brandenburg Gate, the Eiffel tower, the Brazilian Senate are all Israeli now.
Egyptian intel claims it warned Tel Aviv about an imminent attack from Hamas. The Israelis chose to ignore it, as they did the Hamas training drills they observed in the weeks prior, smug in their superior knowledge that Palestinians would never have the audacity to launch a liberation operation.
Whatever happens next, Al-Aqsa Flood has already, irretrievably, shattered the hefty pop mythology around the invincibility of Tsahal, Mossad, Shin Bet, Merkava tank, Iron Dome, and the Israel Defense Forces.
Even as it ditched electronic communications, Hamas profited from the glaring collapse of Israel’s multi-billion-dollar electronic systems monitoring the most surveilled border on the planet.
Cheap Palestinian drones hit multiple sensor towers, facilitated the advance of a paragliding infantry, and cleared the way for T-shirted, AK-47-wielding assault teams to inflict breaks in the wall and cross a border that even stray cats dared not.
Israel, inevitably, turned to battering the Gaza Strip, an encircled cage of 365 square kilometers packed with 2.3 million people. The indiscriminate bombing of refugee camps, schools, civilian apartment blocks, mosques, and slums has begun. Palestinians have no navy, no air force, no artillery units, no armored fighting vehicles, and no professional army. They have little to no high-tech surveillance access, while Israel can call up NATO data if they want it.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant proclaimed “a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we will act accordingly.”
The Israelis can merrily engage in collective punishment because, with three guaranteed UNSC vetoes in their back pocket, they know they can get away with it.
It doesn’t matter that Haaretz, Israel’s most respected newspaper, straight out concedes that “actually the Israeli government is solely responsible for what happened (Al-Aqsa Flood) for denying the rights of Palestinians.”
The Israelis are nothing if not consistent. Back in 2007, then-Israeli Defense Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin said, “Israel would be happy if Hamas took over Gaza because IDF could then deal with Gaza as a hostile state.”
Ukraine funnels weapons to Palestinians
Only one year ago, the sweaty sweatshirt comedian in Kiev was talking about turning Ukraine into a “big Israel,” and was duly applauded by a bunch of Atlantic Council bots.
Well, it turned out quite differently. As an old-school Deep State source just informed me:
“Ukraine-earmarked weapons are ending up in the hands of the Palestinians. The question is which country is paying for it. Iran just made a deal with the US for six billion dollars and it is unlikely Iran would jeopardize that. I have a source who gave me the name of the country but I cannot reveal it. The fact is that Ukrainian weapons are going to the Gaza Strip and they are being paid for but not by Iran."
After its stunning raid last weekend, a savvy Hamas has already secured more negotiating leverage than Palestinians have wielded in decades. Significantly, while peace talks are supported by China, Russia, Turkiye, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt - Tel Aviv refuses. Netanyahu is obsessed with razing Gaza to the ground, but if that happens, a wider regional war is nearly inevitable.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah – a staunch Resistance Axis ally of the Palestinian resistance - would rather not be dragged into a war that can be devastating on its side of the border, but that could change if Israel perpetrates a de facto Gaza genocide.
Hezbollah holds at least 100,000 ballistic missiles and rockets, from Katyusha (range: 40 km) to Fajr-5 (75 km), Khaibar-1 (100 km), Zelzal 2 (210 km), Fateh-110 (300 km), and Scud B-C (500 km). Tel Aviv knows what that means, and shudders at the frequent warnings by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah that its next war with Israel will be conducted inside that country.
Which brings us to Iran.
Geopolitical plausible deniability
The key immediate consequence of Al-Aqsa Flood is that the Washington neocon wet dream of “normalization” between Israel and the Arab world will simply vanish if this turns into a Long War.
Large swathes of the Arab world in fact are already normalizing their ties with Tehran – and not only inside the newly expanded BRICS 11.
In the drive towards a multipolar world, represented by BRICS 11, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), among other groundbreaking Eurasian and Global South institutions, there’s simply no place for an ethnocentric Apartheid state fond of collective punishment.
Just this year, Israel found itself disinvited from the African Union summit. An Israeli delegation showed up anyway, and was unceremoniously ejected from the big hall, a visual that went viral. At the UN plenary sessions last month, a lone Israeli diplomat sought to disrupt Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi’s speech. No western ally stood by his side, and he too, was ejected from the premises.
As Chinese President Xi Jinping diplomatically put it in December 2022, Beijing “firmly supports the establishment of an independent state of Palestine that enjoys full sovereignty based on 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital. China supports Palestine in becoming a full member of the United Nations.”
Tehran’s strategy is way more ambitious – offering strategic advice to West Asian resistance movements from the Levant to the Persian Gulf: Hezbollah, Ansarallah, Hashd al-Shaabi, Kataib Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and countless others. It’s as if they are all part of a new Grand Chessboard de facto supervised by Grandmaster Iran.
The pieces in the chessboard were carefully positioned by none other than the late Quds Force Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps General Qassem Soleimani, a once-in-a-lifetime military genius. He was instrumental in creating the foundations for the cumulative successes of Iranian allies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Palestine, as well as creating the conditions for a complex operation such as Al-Aqsa Flood.
Elsewhere in the region, the Atlanticist drive of opening strategic corridors across the Five Seas - the Caspian, the Black Sea, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Eastern Mediterranean - is floundering badly.
Russia and Iran are already smashing US designs in the Caspian – via the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) – and the Black Sea, which is on the way to becoming a Russian lake. Tehran is paying very close attention to Moscow’s strategy in Ukraine, even as it refines its own strategy on how to debilitate the Hegemon without direct involvement: call it geopolitical plausible deniability.
Bye bye EU-Israel-Saudi-India corridor
The Russia-China-Iran alliance has been demonized as the new “axis of evil” by western neocons. That infantile rage betrays cosmic impotence. These are Real Sovereigns that can’t be messed with, and if they are, the price to pay is unthinkable.
A key example: if Iran under attack by a US-Israeli axis decided to block the Strait of Hormuz, the global energy crisis would skyrocket, and the collapse of the western economy under the weight of quadrillions of derivatives would be inevitable.
What this means, in the immediate future, is that he American Dream of interfering across the Five Seas does not even qualify as a mirage. Al-Aqsa Flood has also just buried the recently-announced and much-ballyhooed EU-Israel-Saudi Arabia-India transportation corridor.
China is keenly aware of all this incandescence taking place only a week before its 3rd Belt and Road Forum in Beijing. At stake are the BRI connectivity corridors that matter – across the Heartland, across Russia, plus the Maritime Silk Road and the Arctic Silk Road.
Then there’s the INSTC linking Russia, Iran and India – and by ancillary extension, the Gulf monarchies.
The geopolitical repercussions of Al-Aqsa Flood will speed up Russia, China and Iran’s interconnected geoeconomic and logistical connections, bypassing the Hegemon and its Empire of Bases. Increased trade and non-stop cargo movement are all about (good) business. On equal terms, with mutual respect - not exactly the War Party’s scenario for a destabilized West Asia.
Oh, the things that a slow-moving paragliding infantry overflying a wall can accelerate.
* * *
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle or ZeroHedge.
Visualizing All Attempted & Successful Moon Landings
Visualizing All Attempted & Successful Moon Landings
Since before Ancient Greece and the first Chinese Dynasties, people have sought to…
Since before Ancient Greece and the first Chinese Dynasties, people have sought to understand and learn more about the moon.
Curiosity and centuries of study culminated in the first moon landing in the 1960s. But there have been many other attempted moon landings, both before and after.
Race to the Moon
The 1960s and 1970s marked an era of intense competition between the U.S. and the Soviet Union as they raced to conquer the moon.
During the Cold War, space became a priority as each side sought to prove the superiority of its technology, its military firepower, and its political-economic system.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy set a national goal to have a crewed lunar landing and return to Earth.
After several failed attempts from both sides, on July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 mission was successful and astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon.
|Mission||Launch Date||Operator||Country||Mission Type||Outcome|
|Ranger 3||26-Jan-62||NASA||???????? U.S.||Lander||Spacecraft failure|
|Ranger 4||23-Apr-62||NASA||???????? U.S.||Lander||Spacecraft failure|
|Ranger 5||18-Oct-62||NASA||???????? U.S.||Lander||Spacecraft failure|
|Luna E-6 No.2||4-Jan-63||OKB-1||☭ USSR||Lander||Launch failure|
|Luna E-6 No.3||3-Feb-63||OKB-1||☭ USSR||Lander||Launch failure|
|Luna 4||2-Apr-63||OKB-1||☭ USSR||Lander||Spacecraft failure|
|Luna E-6 No.6||21-Mar-64||OKB-1||☭ USSR||Lander||Launch failure|
|Luna E-6 No.5||20-Apr-64||OKB-1||☭ USSR||Lander||Launch failure|
|Kosmos 60||12-Mar-65||Lavochkin||☭ USSR||Lander||Launch failure|
|Luna E-6 No.8||10-Apr-65||Lavochkin||☭ USSR||Lander||Spacecraft failure|
|Luna 5||9-May-65||Lavochkin||☭ USSR||Lander||Spacecraft failure|
|Luna 6||8-Jun-65||Lavochkin||☭ USSR||Lander||Spacecraft failure|
|Luna 7||4-Oct-65||Lavochkin||☭ USSR||Lander||Spacecraft failure|
|Luna 8||3-Dec-65||Lavochkin||☭ USSR||Lander||Spacecraft failure|
|Luna 9||31-Jan-66||Lavochkin||☭ USSR||Lander||Successful|
|Surveyor 1||30-May-66||NASA||???????? U.S.||Lander||Successful|
|Surveyor 2||20-Sep-66||NASA||???????? U.S.||Lander||Spacecraft failure|
|Luna 13||21-Dec-66||Lavochkin||☭ USSR||Lander||Successful|
|Surveyor 3||17-Apr-67||NASA||???????? U.S.||Lander||Successful|
|Surveyor 4||14-Jul-67||NASA||???????? U.S.||Lander||Spacecraft failure|
|Surveyor 5||8-Sep-67||NASA||???????? U.S.||Lander||Successful|
|Surveyor 6||7-Nov-67||NASA||???????? U.S.||Lander||Successful|
|Surveyor 7||7-Jan-68||NASA||???????? U.S.||Lander||Successful|
|Luna E-8 No.201||19-Feb-69||Lavochkin||☭ USSR||Lander||Launch failure|
|Luna E-8-5 No.402||14-Jun-69||Lavochkin||☭ USSR||Lander||Launch failure|
|Luna 15||13-Jul-69||Lavochkin||☭ USSR||Lander||Spacecraft failure|
|Apollo 11||16-Jul-69||NASA||???????? U.S.||Lander/
|Kosmos 300||23-Sep-69||Lavochkin||☭ USSR||Lander||Launch failure|
|Kosmos 305||22-Oct-69||Lavochkin||☭ USSR||Lander||Launch failure|
|Apollo 12||14-Nov-69||NASA||???????? U.S.||Lander/
|Luna E-8-5 No.405||6-Feb-70||Lavochkin||☭ USSR||Lander||Launch failure|
|Apollo 13||11-Apr-70||NASA||???????? U.S.||Lander/
|Luna 16||12-Sep-70||Lavochkin||☭ USSR||Lander||Successful|
|Luna 17||10-Nov-70||Lavochkin||☭ USSR||Lander||Successful|
|Apollo 14||31-Jan-71||NASA||???????? U.S.||Lander/
|Apollo 15||26-Jul-71||NASA||???????? U.S.||Lander/
|Luna 18||2-Sep-71||Lavochkin||☭ USSR||Lander||Spacecraft failure|
|Luna 20||14-Feb-72||Lavochkin||☭ USSR||Lander||Successful|
|Apollo 16||16-Apr-72||NASA||???????? U.S.||Lander/
|Apollo 17||7-Dec-72||NASA||???????? U.S.||Lander/
|Luna 21||8-Jan-73||Lavochkin||☭ USSR||Lander||Successful|
|Luna 23||16-Oct-75||Lavochkin||☭ USSR||Lander||Partial failure|
|Luna E-8-5M No.412||16-Oct-75||Lavochkin||☭ USSR||Lander||Launch failure|
|Luna 24||9-Aug-76||Lavochkin||☭ USSR||Lander||Successful|
|Chang'e 3||1-Dec-13||CNSA||???????? China||Lander||Operational|
|Chang'e 4||7-Dec-18||CNSA||???????? China||Lander||Operational|
|Beresheet||22-Feb-19||SpaceIL||???????? Israel||Lander||Spacecraft failure|
|Chandrayaan-2||22-Jul-19||ISRO||???????? India||Lander||Spacecraft Failure|
|Chang'e 5||23-Nov-20||CNSA||???????? China||Lander||Successful|
|Hakuto-R Mission 1||11-Dec-22||ispace||???????? Japan||Lander||Spacecraft failure|
|Luna 25||10-Aug-23||Roscosmos||???????? Russia||Lander||Spacecraft failure|
After the Apollo missions, the fervor of lunar exploration waned. From 1976 to 2013, no moon landing attempts occurred due to budget constraints, shifting priorities, and advances in robotic missions.
However, a new chapter in space exploration has unfolded in recent years, with emerging players entering the cosmic arena. With its Chang’e missions, China has made significant strides, landing rovers on the moon and exploring the far side of the moon.
India, too, has asserted its presence with the Chandrayaan missions. In 2023, the country became the 4th nation to reach the moon as an unmanned spacecraft landed near the lunar south pole, advancing the country’s space ambitions to learn more about the lunar ice, potentially one of the moon’s most valuable resources.
Exploring Lunar Water
Since the 1960s, even before the historic Apollo landing, scientists had theorized the potential existence of water on the moon.
In 2008, Brown University researchers employed advanced technology to reexamine lunar samples, discovering hydrogen within beads of volcanic glass. And in 2009, a NASA instrument aboard the India’s Chandrayaan-1 probe confirmed the presence of water on the moon’s surface.
Water is deemed crucial for future space exploration. Beyond serving as a potential source of drinking water for future moon explorations, ice deposits could play a pivotal role in cooling equipment. Lunar ice could also be broken down to produce hydrogen for fuel and oxygen for breathing, essential for supporting extended space missions.
With a reinvigorated interest in exploring the moon, manned moon landings are on the horizon once again. In April 2023, NASA conducted tests for the launch of Artemis I, the first American spacecraft to aim for the moon since 1972. The agency aims to send astronauts to the moon around 2025 and build a base camp on the lunar surface.
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