The Labyrinth

May 12, 2021

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Shot of a Futuristic Self-Driving Van Mo

Tech:  Silicon Valley Moves to Build Private Cities Without Government Control

Bluebook Cities is a startup that builds ‘resident-owned’ cities and while the concept is only theoretical so far, the group has pulled together nearly 2000 to take part in this - they just need a place to build the city.  While the goal is not a self-governing city-state, they are looking to partner with a government that will work with them and provide next to no regulation as they build this.  The pandemic showed that the labor market was able to migrate easily to the cloud and stay there indefinitely.  This notion allows for concepts 

like Bluebook Cities to be able to go where regulation is low and have residents that can still perform their jobs anywhere.  Some potential problems could come of this, however, such as an improvement in living conditions in cities like New York or San Francisco post-pandemic which may push people to stay where they are and not take part in this – they also need $500 million just for phase I.  While this is not the only idea of a ‘different kind of city’ this is the first one that wants to be semi-independent of government.

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Energy: Mozambique LNG Project Delayed a Year

French oil and gas company Total has said that the LNG project they are spearheading in northeast Mozambique will be delayed for at least a year due to a worsening security situation in the region.  The company has declared a ‘force majeure’ on the heels of the latest attack by Islamic militants that captured territory dangerously close to the refinery which has been taken back by government forces since then.  The 

plan was for the facility to be operational by 2024 with a capacity of 12.9 million mt/year.  After the March 24th attack on the town of Palma, Total has decreased their staff to minimums and other companies in the area, like ExxonMobil, are also curtailing staff and production on a project that was to have a capacity of 15.2 million mt/year.  This insurgency, which is showing no signs of slowing, is now made up of several groups and is threatening all LNG projects in the region.

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Americas:  Pipeline Hack a Case of Simple Extortion, Intel Officials say

DarkSide, a hacking group based out of eastern Europe is purportedly responsible for the ransomware attack that has come close to crippling gas and fuel supplies in the eastern US.  This attack has shown the glaring vulnerability to critical infrastructure and has prompted the FBI to warm utilities, gas suppliers and other pipeline operators to find a way to limit the spread of this attack.  The pipeline has been down for four days, prompting measures from companies to deal with the gas shortages, including American Airlines 

scheduling refueling stops for long-haul passenger aircraft until fuel supplies can stabilize.  The rise in ransomware cases have exploded and coincide with the rise of cyberinsurance which has made companies easy targets by hackers believing that their targets will pay and then make an insurance claim.  A preliminary investigation of the infrastructure of Colonial Pipeline, the hacked company, showed poor security practices which made the act of breaking into the system and locking it up fairly easy.

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Africa:  Former Mauritanian Leader Placed on House Arrest

Former President Mohammed Ould Abdelk Aziz has been placed under house arrest pending the outcome of a corruption investigation he is the center of.  Allegations include corruption, embezzlement, and money laundering made against the west African country.  Aziz was in power from 2008 to 2019 and has overseen the only peaceful change of power in that country’s post-colonial history.  The former President refuses to cooperate with the investigation citing immunity as a former leader and has gone so far as to call the 

prosecution illegal.  Mauritania gained independence from France in 1960 and in that time has had five coups with the military leading the country for much of that time. 

By the Numbers

155 million - The number of people that required food assistance globally in 2020 according to the UN Food Program

​4 - The percentage drop in the US birthrate in 2020, more than double the average rate of decline over the past six years

40 – The percentage of girls in Mozambique under 18 that are forced into marriage because of poverty and societal pressures