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US oil price hits fresh 2019 high @FT
West Texas Intermediate rose as much as 0.5 per cent to $65.89 a
barrel in Asia-Pacific trading, its highest level since October. Brent
crude, the global benchmark, also came within a whisker of the year
high touched on Monday, up 0.5 per cent at $74.39 a barrel.
The moves came after the Trump administration on Monday announced the
end of waivers from US sanctions granted to India, China, Japan, South
Korea and Turkey.
Oil prices jumped despite the White House insisting that it had worked
with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to ensure sufficient
supply to offset the loss of Iranian exports.
Oil prices have risen nearly 40 per cent this year, as the Opec cartel
of oil producers cut production, and sanctions on Iran and Venezuela
tightened supply in global markets.
“The current waivers expire on 2 May and the decision is likely to
worsen the ongoing supply woes being felt with Venezuelan sanctions,
the OPEC supply cut, and intensifying conflict in Libya,” ANZ analysts
Oil rallies as US drops sanctions waivers on Iran oil @FT
Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, will on Monday announce a move to
end waivers when they expire in early May, a US official told the
Financial Times, in the latest effort by Donald Trump’s administration
to ratchet up pressure on Iran. The move sparked a rally in oil
prices. Global benchmark Brent crude jumped 2.5 per cent in Asia
trading to $73.77, its highest since November. West Texas
Intermediate, the US price, rose 2.1 per cent to $65.39, also near a
six month high.
Attack Thwarted on Saudi Security Facility, Four Gunmen Dead @bpolitics
Saudi Arabian police foiled an attack by unidentified gunmen on a
security facility north of the capital, Riyadh, on Sunday, killing all
four, a government spokesman said.
The men tried to storm a building belonging to Saudi Arabia’s mabahith
security agency in the town of Al Zulfi, located in a conservative
area about 155 miles (250 kilometers) from the capital, a spokesman
for the Presidency of State Security said in a statement. Three police
officers were lightly hurt in what the statement called a “terrorist
attack.” The mabahith deal with domestic security and are sometimes
referred to as the kingdom’s secret police.
The gunmen carried automatic weapons, bombs and firebombs, Saudi-owned
Al-Arabiya news channel reported.
مراسل العربية: جميع مهاجمي مركز المباحث في الزلفي @AlArabiya_Brk
08-APR-2019 :: Therefore, in many respects whomsoever controls this Spigot because this is real cash can control the World.
Depending on prices, oil is estimated to represent 2 percent to 3
percent of global gross domestic product. At the current price of $70
per barrel, the annual value of global oil output is $2.5 trillion.
Trading in derivatives such as oil futures and options is mainly
dollar denominated. The top two global energy exchanges, ICE and CME,
traded a billion lots of oil derivati- ves in 2018 with a nominal
value of about $5 trillion [Reuters].
The c21st Oil Economy is a very big deal and Ryszard Kapuściński who
wrote as follows about the oil and petrodollar dollar economy in Shah
“Oil creates the illusion of a completely changed life, life without
work, life for free. Oil is a resource that anaesthetizes thought,
blurs vision, corrupts.” Ryszard Kapuś- ciński, Shah of Shahs.
“Oil kindles extraordinary emotions and hopes, since oil is above all
a great temptation. It is the tempta- tion of ease, wealth, strength,
fortu- ne, power. It is a filthy, foul-smelling liquid that squirts
obligingly up into the air and falls back to earth as a rustling
shower of money.”
Carlos Santana: . "I'll put it this way: may the heavens open up and the angels bless each and every one of you with a deep awareness of your own light. God created you in his own image and God is light and love"
Carlos Santana: . “I’ll put it this way: may the heavens open up and
the angels bless each and every one of you with a deep awareness of
your own light. God created you in his own image and God is light and
love. I know it sounds hippy and all that...”
What is a ritual for? To connect with invisible absoluteness & let it
go through you In Spanish we say hechizo divino, which means ‘divine
spell’. Time & gravity disappear when you start dancing We are freed
from what Bob Marley called our mental slavery.
‘’Latin music came from the Congo, the blues came from Timbuktu, and
all the rhythms of the Caribbean such as cumbia, merengue and
cha-cha-cha came from Africa many years of devotion and passion into
honouring African music. It has healing powers,”
‘’Because we are in the same predicament,” Santana says “We still have
the same guy with a different face, whether that is Richard Nixon or
Ronald Reagan or Donald Trump. Someone [ie Trump] who talks about
‘shithole countries’ is not an evolved human being
“For me, this new Woodstock is about creating more light to make hope
and courage,” he says. “Because without hope and courage... man, it’s
a bitter world.” Africa Speaks (Decca) is out on June 7 @SantanaCarlos
23-APR-2019 :: What Lies Beneath and Petrichor
I am reading an Article by Robert Macfarlane headlined What lies
beneath. The Article begins ''We live in an age of untimely
surfacings'' and continues ''The same month, water levels in the River
Elbe dropped so far that “hunger stones” were revealed – carved
boulders used since the 1400s to commemorate droughts and warn of
their consequences. One of the stones bears the inscription “Wenn du
mich siehst, dann weine” (If you see me, weep)''
These unburials also disrupt simple notions of Earth history as
orderly in sequence, with the deepest down being the furthest back.
Epochs and periods are mixing and entangling. “The problem,” writes
the archaeologist Þóra Pétursdóttir, “is not that things become buried
far down in strata – but that they endure, outlive us, and come back
at us with a force we didn’t realise they had, a dark force of
‘sleeping giants’,” roused from their deep-time slumber.
As we scan the sky for rain clouds and sniff the air greedily for the
smell of Petrichor [Petrichor (/ˈpɛtrɪkɔːr/) is the earthy scent
produced when rain falls on dry soil. The word is constructed from
Greek petra (πέτρα), meaning "stone", and īchōr (ἰχώρ), the fluid that
flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology] Petrichor odour
"... was due to the presence of organic substances closely related to
the essential oils of plants ..." and that these substances consist of
"... the fragrance emitted by thousands of flowers ..." absorbed into
the pores of the soil, and only released when displaced by rain. After
attempts to isolate it, he found that it "... ap peared to be very
similar to, if not identical with, bromo-cedren, derived from essence
of cedar." These are indeed human instincts that have been with us I
am sure since the beginning of time. Today some of us might dial up
Accuweather or some such Platform in order to inform of us of what our
[once] finely tuned bodies already understand at an elemental level.
Sifting that original and ancient Signal from the c21st Noise is
surely the problem. It is surely a fact that the Age of The Machine,
the Smart Phone and Algorithms has blunted our ability to listen to
Nature and we are evidently tone deaf not unlike those Folks on the
sidewalk who would quite likely bump straight into you whilst studying
a Tweet. The reason ''Petrichor'' comes to my mind is surely that in
the current ''rainy'' season of very light and occasional showers, I
am being in fact assailed by multiple releases of the odour.
Last week I was listening to Dr. Patrick Njoroge the Governor of the
Central Bank who was visiting Washington for the IMF World Bank Spring
meeting and took the opportunity to do some ''Investor Relations''
work on our behalf. Dr. Njoroge advocates our Position with coherence
and conviction and he performs an invaluable Task, which practically
no one else does, in fact. Dr. Njoroge spoke of the lack of rain as
posing up to a 1% risk on FY 2019 GDP. One of the functions of an
Investor Relations exercise is you put your best Foot Forward but in
my experience drought episodes have typically taken bigger chunks out
of our GDP and there is a powerful negative feedback loop effect. Our
Food Price Profile is actually high beta [with an observable Price
Gouging Bias] , so the first thing that happens is Food Prices start
climbing. Already our Food Import Bill has started to spike. This then
feeds into inflation which then poses a monetary policy question.
Professor Ndungu [Dr. Njoroge's predecessor] in 2011 argued that it
was not a function of monetary policy to respond to such a situation.
The markets disavowed him of that notion in 2011 and you will recall
that rates were forced as high as 24% before the situation was brought
back under control. Economists like NN Taleb might characterise what I
am outlining as ''Tail Risks'' Tail risk is the additional risk of an
asset or portfolio of assets moving more than 3 standard deviations
from its current price, above the risk of a normal distribution.
Tail risk is sometimes defined less strictly, as merely the risk (or
probability) of rare events. Taleb made his Fortune and name correctly
betting that the market was mispricing ''Tail Risks'' or we can call
it ''haywire'' risk. All the available evidence is informing us that
the ''Weather'' Tail risk is seriously elevated on a near term, medium
term and long term basis and in a very non-linear outcome Africa has
18 out of the 20 most climate affected Countries.
Returning to Kenya. Last Year good rains meant that Agriculture was a
serious Tail-Wind. From our Horticulturists to our Tea Farmers, to our
Small-Holder Farmers, everyone did well. Importantly, Agriculture has
an important economic diffusion effect because of the volume of
Stakeholders. The Shilling which had traded double digits not too long
ago and for the first time in a number of years is back around the
101.00 level and the market anticipates additional food imports. It
appears that President Kenyatta and Raila Odinga are travelling to
visit Xi Jinping together [a condition precedent of further loans it
seems post FOCAC and in order to reduce Chinese Political risk
exposure and I am sure its front and centre given how much they are on
the hook for in Venezuela for example] to ask for a multibillion
shilling increase for the extension of the SGR to Kisumu. Tax
collection data [and more importantly the Public response which is as
negative as I have ever witnessed] is signalling the pips are
squeaking and that collections are now maxed out. Sure the Eurobond
[predicted as soon as the IMF rolls over the Insurance Facility] will
kick the can down the road. Whether You call it luck or You call it
resilience, lets hope ours does not run out.
What lies beneath: @RobGMacfarlane travels 'Underland' @guardian
we live in an age of untimely surfacings. Across the Arctic, ancient
methane deposits are leaking through “windows” in the Earth opened by
thawing permafrost. In the forests of eastern Siberia a vast crater
yawns in softening ground, swallowing thousands of trees; local
Yakutian people refer to it as the “doorway to the underworld”. In the
“cursed fields” of northern Russia, permafrost melt is exposing
19th-century animal burial grounds containing naturally occurring
anthrax spores; a 2016 outbreak infected 23 people and killed a child.
Retreating glaciers are yielding the bodies of those engulfed by their
ice many years before – the dead of the ongoing conflict in Kashmir,
or the “White war” of 1915–18 in the Italian mountains. Near the peak
of San Matteo, three Habsburg soldiers melted out of a serac at an
altitude of 12,000ft, hanging upside down. At Camp One on Everest in
2017, after a period of unseasonal warmth, a mountaineer’s hand
appeared, reaching out of the ice into which he had been frozen. Gold
miners in the Yukon recently unearthed a 50,000-year-old wolf pup from
the permafrost, eerily preserved right down to the curl of its upper
The same month, water levels in the River Elbe dropped so far that
“hunger stones” were revealed – carved boulders used since the 1400s
to commemorate droughts and warn of their consequences. One of the
stones bears the inscription “Wenn du mich siehst, dann weine” (If you
see me, weep). In northern Greenland, an American cold war missile
base – sealed under the ice 50 years ago with the presumption that
snow accumulation would entomb it for ever, and containing huge
volumes of toxic chemicals – has begun to move towards the light. This
January, polar scientists discovered a gigantic melt cavity –
two-thirds the area of Manhattan and up to 300 metres high – growing
under the Thwaites glacier in west Antarctica. Thwaites is immense.
Its calving face is the juggernaut heading towards us. It holds enough
ice to raise ocean levels by more than two feet, and its melt patterns
are already responsible for around 4% of global sea-level rise.
These Anthropocene unburials, as I have come to think of them, are
proliferating around the world. Forces, objects and substances thought
safely confined to the underworld are declaring themselves above
ground with powerful consequences. It is easy to aestheticise such
events, curating them into a Wunderkammer of weirdness. But they are
not curios – they are horror shows. Nor are they portents of what is
to come – they are the uncanny signs of a crisis that is already here,
accelerating around us and experienced most severely by the most
These unburials also disrupt simple notions of Earth history as
orderly in sequence, with the deepest down being the furthest back.
Epochs and periods are mixing and entangling. Our burning of the
liquefied remains of carboniferous forests melts glacial ice that fell
as snow in the Pleistocene, raising sea levels for a future
Anthropocene. Both time and place are undergoing what Amitav Ghosh has
called “the great derangement”, torqued into new forms by the scales
and speeds of anthropogenic change at a planetary level. “The
problem,” writes the archaeologist Þóra Pétursdóttir, “is not that
things become buried far down in strata – but that they endure,
outlive us, and come back at us with a force we didn’t realise they
had, a dark force of ‘sleeping giants’,” roused from their deep-time
We know so little of the worlds beneath our feet. Look up on a
cloudless night and you might see the light from a star trillions of
miles away, or pick out the craters left by asteroid strikes on the
moon’s face. Look down and your sight stops at topsoil, tarmac, toe. I
have rarely felt as far from the human realm as when only 10 metres
below it, held in the shining jaws of a limestone bedding plane first
formed on the floor of a warm Cretaceous sea.
The underland keeps its secrets well. Last December scientists
revealed their discovery of a vast “deep life” ecosystem in the
Earth’s crust, twice the volume of the world’s oceans, containing a
biodiversity comparable to that of the Amazon, and teeming with 23bn
tonnes of micro-organisms – hundreds of times the combined weight of
all living humans. Only in recent decades have ecologists traced the
fungal networks that lace woodland soil, joining individual trees into
intercommunicating forests via a “wood wide web” – as fungi have been
doing for hundreds of millions of years.
WB Yeats' The Second Coming
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;- Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
More than 200 people have been killed in simultaneous explosions at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka that also injured several hundred victims @ForeignPolicy
Law & Politics
According to media reports, there were eight blasts in all, including
at churches in Negombo and Kochchikade in the country’s west, and
Batticaloa in the east. Three luxury hotels in the capital Colombo
were also targeted.
The ability to launch several attacks all at once suggests a degree of
sophistication, planning, funding, and reach. While authorities are
still piecing together what happened, the blasts bear at least some
resemblance to the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai, which
simultaneously targeted two luxury hotels, a busy railway terminal,
and a Jewish outreach center.
U.S. intelligence says @Huawei funded by Chinese state security: report
Law & Politics
The CIA accused Huawei of receiving funding from China’s National
Security Commission, the People’s Liberation Army and a third branch
of the Chinese state intelligence network, the British newspaper
reported, citing a source.
Earlier this year, U.S. intelligence shared its claims with other
members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group, which includes
Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, according to the report
Huawei dismissed the allegations in a statement cited by the newspaper.
10 NOV 14 ::Ouagadougou's Signal to Sub-Sahara Africa
What’s clear is that a very young, very informed and very connected
African youth demographic [many characterise this as a ‘demographic
dividend’] – which for Beautiful Blaise turned into a demographic
terminator – is set to alter the existing equilibrium between the
rulers and the subjects, and a re-balancing has begun. We need to ask
ourselves; how many people can incumbent shoot stone cold dead in such
a situation – 100, 1,000, 10,000? This is another point: there is a
threshold beyond which the incumbent can’t go. Where that threshold
lies will be discovered in the throes of the event. Therefore, the
preeminent point to note is that protests in Burkina Faso achieved
escape velocity. Overthrowing incumbents is all about acceleration,
momentum and speed best characterised by the German word ‘Blitzkrieg’.
Sudan's army ruler vows to hand 'power to the people' . @mailandguardian
Clapping and waving Sudanese flags, the crowd waited for their leaders
to announce a civilian council that they want to take power from the
military rulers as loudspeakers played nationalist and revolutionary
“High! High! Sudan is up high,” huge crowds of protesters chanted.
“Our revolution is civilian and protected by the people,” they vowed.
They also chanted “freedom” and “Whether it (the regime) falls or not,
we are staying”, as they again pledged to keep up the pressure on the
country’s new military council.
Burhan said a team of police, army and security agents found a cash
haul including €7-million, $350 000 and five billion Sudanese pounds
($105-million) during a search at Bashir’s home.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates meanwhile offered $3-billion
on Sunday in financial aid to the cash-starved country.
“The council is committed to give power to [the] people,” Burhan
insisted, in his first interview on state television since taking
Arab Spring & Geopolitics of Sudan The fact of the matter is that regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia & the UAE genuinely fear that if revolution succeeds in Sudan, there could be a domino effect, which may threaten their own autocratic regimes. @newsc
Sudan and Algeria are the current battle grounds. The autocrats have
been overthrown in mass upheaval. But how far this revolutionary
situation translates as democratic transition is still far from clear.
On the face of it, the odds are heavily stacked against democratic
transition. The crucial point is that unlike in the northern tier,
where two major regional powers — Turkey and Iran — have actively
promoted the democratic transition, there is no regional power in the
southern tier which is willing to countenance change to representative
rule. Presently, the three most powerful regional states in the
southern tier — Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt — are staunchly
opposed to any democratic transition in Sudan. (Meanwhile, in Libya,
too, a strongman is on the march with support from Egypt, the UAE and
Saudi Arabia.) Ironically, Turkey and Iran have remained ambivalent.
On the contrary, Saudi Arabia has openly expressed support for the
military in Sudan. Egypt too has made it clear that it is not in
favour of democratic change in Sudan. It stands to reason that Saudi
Arabia and the UAE apprehend the prospect that political Islam might
ride the wave of popular uprising and come to power in Sudan — as had
happened briefly in Egypt and more so in Morocco.
At any rate, the Saudi-UAE-Egyptian axis envisages a future for Sudan
on the lines of the autocratic set-up in Cairo, which is a barely
disguised military dictatorship. As in the case of the military coup
in Egypt in 2013 that overthrew the elected government of Mohammed
Morsi, Israel and the US are also serious players behind the scenes in
Sudan. It has come to light that Sudanese military figures have been
in touch with Mossad and the CIA.
Taking all factors into account, therefore, even if the protests in
Sudan force the military to compromise and make way to civilian rule,
that may prove to be only a temporary arrangement. The Saudis and UAE
will bankroll the military with a view to prop up a strongman in
Khartoum eventually. The high probability is that another strongman
with military backing and foreign support is waiting in the wings.
In this dismal scenario, the best thing to have happened so far is
that the popular upheaval in Sudan has remained non-violent. History
shows that violent revolts play into the hands of counterrevolutionary
forces to coalesce and galvanise a new dictatorship. On the other
hand, civil disobedience, boycott, demonstrations and other forms of
non-violent strategies cannot succeed unless there is popular
mobilisation, which is taking place in Sudan.
Without doubt, there is wide participation in the Sudanese protests of
people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds, young and old,
women and men, secular and religious. What brings them together is the
yearning for freedom and better living. And such inclusiveness is
always a bulwark against attempts by the reactionary forces (elements
of the Old Regime, the military, interest groups, etc.) to discredit
the revolution and/or splinter the popular movement.
So far, things have gone relatively well in Sudan. However, make no
mistake that the worst may be still to come . The fact of the matter
is that the regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE genuinely fear
that if the revolution succeeds in Sudan, there could be a domino
effect, which may threaten their own autocratic regimes.
Toward Sudan's Next Revolution BY @jacobinmag's TAREK CHEIKH
Arrested at the beginning of the 1970s, on his way to prison the
popular Sudanese poet Mahjoub Sharif wrote a fervent prayer:
When will it clear
The sky of our dear Khartoum,
When will it be healed
The country’s wound?
Since its independence from the British in 1956, Sudan has experienced
several popular revolutions, two of which successfully removed a
totalitarian dictator: Commander Ibrahim Abboud in 1964, then General
Jaafar Nimeiry in 1985. But the current revolt appears different in
every respect from the previous ones.
The popular movement is eclectic, bringing together many different
parts of the population. The political earthquake surprised the
regime, which tends to concentrate its forces in the capital, in order
to prevent a coup. Beyond the strength and vitality of the movement,
the clarity of its political demands has made the government anxious.
Notwithstanding the present conjuncture dominated by hunger and
poverty, these demands are not only economic. The United Nations’
Development Program (UNDP) has estimated that more than twenty million
people live under the poverty line in Sudan, representing close to a
third of the sixty-six million in such a position across all the Arab
The slogans shouted by the protestors across the towns are essentially
political. The chants raised most often are “Freedom, Peace, and
Justice!” and “Revolution is the People’s Choice!”, showing the depth
of popular aspirations, and the force of the idea of revolution.
It’s also clear that the Islamist movement has entirely run out of
steam, leaving behind an oppressive heritage: a running-down of the
state at every level, from the economic to the political and cultural
spheres, and even, paradoxically, in the religious sphere, given the
ravages of the “diabolical” mixture of religion and corruption.
However, a new factor has come into play that should influence the
course of events: the forces of youth, the real engine of popular
revolt in all Sudanese cities. This young generation was born in the
shadow of Islamist power, and so is distinct from generations familiar
with the political parties that existed before Al-Bashir.
The current movement could collide with the militias of the Islamist
movement, who would take action, and not hesitate to open fire. The
question is to what extent military and police forces will remain
impassive in the face of such dangers. Will they enter the stage, as
some hope, to support the movement and resolve the conflict in favor
of the people, as in the two popular uprisings of 1964 and 1985?
All indications are that the Sudanese people’s uprising is continuing
and growing in power, expressing its clear desire to put an end to the
current regime. In parallel, marathon negotiations continue, between
various parties and political forces hoping to escape the crisis. The
result remains in the balance.