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A new type of 'digital child' is here, and every parent should have one @Cobbo3
This 23-year-old American, Kris Sanchez, is the kind of child every
modern parent would wish to have.
Like all young people his age, he spends a lot of time on social media
-- Twitter, in particular.
But he is not sharing selfies, gossip, or leaked photos of a naked
Rihanna or a shirtless Cristiano Ronaldo.
Instead, according to a recent article by Fast Company, Sanchez works
hard doing research and tweets about 60 to 70 facts (some serious,
some fun) a day under his Twitter handle @UberFacts.
He tweets things like, "One in 20 people do not have the biological
father they think they have", or "More bank robberies happen on
Fridays than any other day, and the most popular time for banks to be
robbed is between 9am and 11am."
This young man, who really is still wet behind the ears, earned
$500,000 (Sh44 million) last year. How?
He has 7.4 million "followers" on Twitter and his page is so popular
that companies pay him to post links about their products and
services, and that is where the money comes from.
The world has really changed.
Can you imagine your child, in his pajamas, lying in bed with a
laptop, not even having had a shower, making more in a year than you
who wears your sharp suit or business skirt and white or blue blouse
and goes out in the maddening traffic every day to labour in some
Or that there are parents out there who are happy that their grown son
is not getting out of bed to hit the streets to look for a job.
The future is here. So we looked around at Kenyan twitterdom to see
how things looked and who could make some decent change or really help
give wings to a cause if they chose to tweet about it.
Media companies, journalists, and presenters, not surprisingly, have
cornered the Kenyan Twitter market. To pick a few: KTN has 652,000
followers, NTV 594,000, Citizen TV 587,000.
When it comes to Twitter handles of newspaper titles, Daily Nation
leads the pack with 485,000 followers and The Standard follows with
This means that when, one of these days, the migration toward digital
platforms comes of age and media companies get smart at figuring out
how to make hay out of their social media footprints, they will not
need to pay a penny to marketing firms to help them with their
campaigns and promotions.
But the really intriguing bit is that there are now individuals in
Kenya who have a larger Twitter following than media companies that
are older than 100 years.
For example, Jeff Koinange, who does his thing on KTN, with 415,000
followers, NTV's Larry Madowo with 373,000, and Citizen's Julie
Gichuru with 367,000, all have larger followings than The Standard
Who knows, if Koinange continues interviewing more controversial and
colourful characters that come to his set looking like peacocks, he
could surpass Daily Nation on Twitter in a year.
I sense that there is a major power shift underway here. Exclude
non-Kenyans based in Nairobi such as Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore, who
has 322,000 followers, and throw in more random Twitter heavies in the
basket: columnist, blogger, and financial adviser Aly-Khan Satchu has
114,000 followers and controversial blogger Robert Alai has 137,000.
If social media becomes a truly mind-shifting platform in Kenya, and
everyone who has attended Sunny Bindra's "social media summits" at
Strathmore Business School probably believes that it already is, then
very soon folks might be making some interesting choices.
Jeff Koinange's following on Twitter is nearly twice the combined
circulation of all the daily newspapers published in a day in Nairobi.
Assume people are paying as much attention to social media as the
papers and you are an advertiser with a budget of Sh2 million to run a
campaign in all the newspapers, but you can also pay Koinange
Sh500,000 and reach twice the number of people, what will you do?
Also, if you have a small business and no advertising budget, now you
have a prayer. All you need is to be nice to Satchu, Alai, Gichuru,
and Koinange and they can drop in a good word for your product in
their tweets on a slow day and, voilà! you are in the money.
For now, though, it would more than suffice to have a Twitter-smart
son called Sanchez.
China May Risk Region Instability: Indonesia Army Chief
Law & Politics
China must not use its "great force" to create regional instability,
Indonesian military chief General Moeldoko said, as his nation seeks
to avoid being drawn into China's territorial disputes in the South
"China is a great economic superpower, however we don't want this
great force to create instability in the region," Moeldoko, who goes
by one name, said in a speech in Singapore today. "Just a small
disturbance within this maritime zone will give a big impact" and
create turbulence in the region.
Indonesia is in sync with the Pivot.
Isis in Syria: General reveals the lack of communication with the US -
and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default
The leading Syrian army officer, who requested anonymity, takes a
shrewd view of events - and history - and clearly had no objection to
America's air strikes on Isis targets in his country, although he
viewed them dispassionately. "Our army doesn't know where or when
these strikes are going to happen," he said. "We see aircraft on our
radar - we can see everything - but if our checkpoints (on the front)
see the strikes, it is only by chance. We and the Americans are not
sharing information with each other. The Americans just do it. It's
natural. They decide in the UN that they are going to do these
strikes. Syria says 'yes'. We are fighting 'Daesh' (Isis) and the
other terrorist groups. But America never asked us about their
More Dad's Army, it would seem to the general, than the Free Syrian Army.
The CDC put out a new poster about Ebola
Law & Politics
Droplet spread happens when germs traveling inside droplets that are
coughed or sneezed from a sick person enter the eyes, nose, or mouth
of another person. Droplets travel short distances, less than 3 feet
(1 meter) from one person to another.
A person might also get infected by touching a surface or object that
has germs on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
20-OCT-2014 :: Ebola Severity Lies in Speed of Infections
Law & Politics
IT is difficult to avoid the Ebola virus especially since the cases in
the US magnified the issue. Many folks dis- miss concerns by comparing
the optics of influenza numbers versus the Ebola numbers and dismiss
Ebola as just a blip on the global radar. I have recently discovered
an outstanding contemporary intellectual thinker called Paul Virilio
who said the following about electronic money:
"The effectiveness of electronic money lies in its mass, which
increase its velocity of circulation.''
Virilio claims that as the "last post-industrial resource,
acceleration exceeds accumulation...the escape velocity becomes the
equivalent of profit." Virilio believes that acceleration and speed
are the defining characteristics of our new world. So my first point
about the Ebola virus is that it is not about the absolute number of
cases, it is about its 'escape velocity' viruses that exhibit
non-linear and exponential characteristics. WHO recently predicted
that the number of Ebola cases in three West African nations may jump
to between 5,000 and 10,000 a week by December as the deadly viral
infection spreads. My point is that we have not entered the parabolic
phase yet, when the escape velocity is at its fastest and therefore,
the comparison with malaria and influenza might be an irrelevant
Another point to consider is the invisible case-load of Ebola cases
which are not being captured by the surveillance system. WHO
previously spoke of ''shadow-zones''. We have not received any data
since late September around the Ebola [different mutation] outbreak in
DR Congo. A friend in the DRC informs me Ebola deaths there are over
Furthermore, researchers have identified more than 300 new viral
mutations in the latest strain of Eb- ola. "It is a numbers game, the
more cases you have the more likely there are going to be mutations
that could change the virus in a significant way," said David Sanders,
a professor of biological sciences at Purdue Univer- sity who studies
Ebola. "The more it persists, the more likely we are going to be
thrown a curve."
The curve Sanders is speaking about is that Ebola, contrary to Centers
for Disease Control 'protocol' is in fact airborne.
Or as, an article posted by CIDRAP [The Center for Infectious Disease
Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota] defines it,
Authorities insist that nurse Pham was wearing protective gear -
gloves, mask, apron and shield - when she treated Duncan. So how did
she contract the deadly virus? No one seems to really know. CDC
officials are blaming an error in hospital pro- cedures, claiming that
it's a "breach of protocol", and yet, they still have no idea what
that breach was.
If that's the case, how do they know it was a breach to begin with?
The CIDRAP report says: ''We be- lieve there is scientific and
epidemiologic evidence that Ebola virus has the potential to be
transmitted via infectious aerosol particles both near and at a
distance from infected patients, which means that healthcare workers
should be wearing respirators, not face masks.''
The non-linear and exponential rate of mutation of the Ebola Virus
gives the tail risk real bite.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book Black Swan addresses the tail risk
and describes it as follows: the disproportionate role of
high-profile, hard-to-predict, and rare events that are beyond the
realm of normal expectations in history, science, finance, and
The non-computability of the probability of the consequential rare
events using scientific methods (owing to the very nature of small
The psychological biases make people individually and collectively
blind to uncertainty and unaware of the massive role of the rare event
in historical affairs.
The rare event or tail risk is that the Ebola has already or will
mutate into a virus that has the potential to be transmitted via
infectious aerosol particles both near and at a distance from infected
The World Bank recently highlighted two scenarios: impacts on the
region in the case of "low Ebola", in which the disease is contained
by early 2015, cases stay around 20,000 and economic activity
gradually increases; and "high Ebola", in which the disease is
contained more slowly, cases reach 200,000 and the outbreak worsens
significantly into mid-2015.
Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
Dollar Index 86.23
Japan Yen 109.12 The yen fell 0.2 percent to 109.12, and touched the
lowest level since Oct. 7,
Swiss Franc 0.9584
Pound 1.5972 The pound bought $1.5973, a two week low.
India Rupee 61.43
South Korea Won 1053.94
Brazil Real 2.4614 Policy makers, led by central bank President
Alexandre Tombini, voted 5-to-3 to raise the benchmark Selic by a
quarter-point to 11.25 percent
The Ibovespa declined 2.5 percent today, after rising 3.6 percent
yesterday and slumping as much as 6.2 percent on Oct. 27.
Egypt Pound 7.1570
South Africa Rand 10.9685
Dollar Jumps as Fed Ends Bond Buying While Crude Retreats
he dollar climbed to a four-week high after the Federal Reserve judged
the U.S. economy strong enough to end its asset-purchase program.
Metals and oil fell while European equity-index futures increased.
The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index gained 0.2 percent by 7:18 a.m. in
London, with the euro weakening 0.3 percent and South Korea's won
leading emerging-market currencies lower. Gold dropped 0.5 percent and
nickel slumped 1.7 percent. West Texas Intermediate oil slid 0.4
29-SEP-2014 A Small Window for Sharks as Dollar Rises
ON August 25, I wrote this: "You see in the old days, these condi-
tions would have created a flight into the dollar.... If things tip
big, the dollar might soar."
This time last year, the US was printing $85 billion a month under its
Quantitative Easing (QE3) programme and the party was in full swing
like in the Great Gatsby novel, in which author Scott Fitzgerald
writes: "In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths
among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars."
The Punchbowl just kept on giving. Well, next month the entire QE
programme gets wrapped up. The markets have been wrestling with some
serious hangover effects.
The greenback is emerging out of a multi-year disequilibrium. The US
is now pushing out a lot of oil imports and the system is awash in the
black stuff, hence why there has been no upside pop in the price of
oil, notwithstanding the drumbeat of war in the Middle East.
Stanley Druckenmiller, who with George Soros bet the bank against the
Bank of England on September 16, 1992 and made off with a billion
pounds in the days when a billion was serious amount of stash said
this: "As a macro investor, my job for 30 years was to anticipate
changes in the economic trends that were not expected by others - and
therefore not yet reflected in securities prices".
"Soros has taught me that when you have tremendous conviction on a
trade, you have to go for the jugular. It takes courage to be a pig
.... As far as Soros is concerned, when you're right on something, you
can't own enough."
The last time I felt it soar in my blood like I feel it now was May
2003 when President George Bush delivered his Mission Accomplished
speech on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. That day, and for
about 48 hours, the world believed George Bush, and more importantly,
the crude oil markets did as well. The price of oil fell to $31.50 a
barrel. Like a panther, I sniffed the air looking for liquidity,
called my banker looking for a line that I could swing, and swing it I
did. I bought a lot of call options on oil.
The point I am making is that the dollar has just started going. There
will be blood in the water. There is a small window if we want to be
Crude Oil 6m Chart INO 81.89
13-OCT-2014 :Who Kneecapped Crude Oil?
The US administration has turned price slasher and like in Alfred
Hitchcock's totemic movie "Pyscho", oil has been sliced up real good.
The US has flooded the oil market and the commodity is now a
geopolitical spear [Michael Klare and Tom Engelhardt].
It is the US that is the new price setter for the oil markets and this
is a deep and important geopolitical development. The new price levels
will have immediate and enormous geopolitical and financial knock-on
effects. It will place intolerable pressure on oil producers and
particularly those operating from a higher base price.
My point is that Barack Obama has taken control of the crude oil
cockpit; he is in charge of the airplane. He has control of all the
instruments and it has been a wild ride for the last few weeks, which
could get a whole lot wilder.
Michael Sata: Another one bites the dust @DailyMaverick
Michael Sata has died before. Several times, in fact, rumours of his
death have swept through this vast country, only for Sata himself to
put in a public appearance and confirm that all was well. "I am not
dead," he remarked wryly in September, as he re-opened the Zambian
But if he wasn't dead, then he was certainly sick. There was the
strange pallor, uneasy gait and hesitant speech, so unlike the
firebrand politician who had spent so much of his career railing
against the government and, famously, the Chinese. There were the
unexplained medical holidays to Israel, and the missed public
appearances, most recently his absence from Zambia's independence
celebrations and the speech he failed to deliver at the United Nations
And there were even more rumours, of course, mostly spread by
independent media who were rapped on the knuckles for reporting lies
and distortions, for misleading the nation about the state of the
Except these rumours were right. President Sata really was sick, and
he was seeking medical attention abroad. But even those fancy foreign
doctors couldn't save him, and on Tuesday evening he died - for real
this time - at a hospital in London, aged 77, with his wife and three
of his sons at his side.
"It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing on of our
beloved president," said cabinet secretary Roland Msiska in a
statement broadcast on national TV. "I urge all of you to remain calm,
united and peaceful during this very difficult period."
Sata is not the first Zambian president to die in office. In 2008,
President Levy Mwanawasa suffered a stroke at an African Union
conference and was rushed to Paris for emergency surgery, which was
ultimately unsuccessful. Statistically, then, being a Zambian
president is an extraordinarily dangerous career choice - two of
Zambia's five post-independence presidents have died in office, which
is a presidential mortality rate of 40%.
Sata is also the latest entry in a long line of African presidents to
die in office - as the Daily Maverick has explored before, a
combination of old age, poor health services and a desire to hold on
to power for too long means that far too many sitting presidents have
graduated to the great Presidential Palace in the Sky in recent years.
As Zambia mourns Sata, focus turns now to the succession, which is not
as straightforward as it should be. Constitutionally, the
vice-president takes over. That would be Guy Scott, Sata's veteran
right-hand man, who South Africans remember for his uncompromising
criticism of the regional superpower.
But Scott comes with his own problems. Politically, it's a tough sell.
Scott is white, and in some other African countries the idea of a
white vice-president would be anathema. This isn't such a problem in
Zambia, where - to the country's great credit - race relations come
without the tensions evident elsewhere in the region, but it's still
an uneasy situation for a nation celebrating 50 years of independence
from British rule.
Legally too there are issues. The Zambian constitution specifies that
both parents of the president must be "Zambian by birth or descent".
Does this disqualify Scott, whose parents are Scottish? He maintains
that he is eligible, but others aren't sure - including Sata himself,
who would usually nominate someone else to assume the presidency when
he travelled abroad. This time round, he nominated Defence Minister
Edgar Lungu, but it's unclear whether Lungu will continue now. If
Scott is appointed as interim president, this could well be challenged
in court by political opponents, throwing Zambia into further chaos.
This confusion is likely why the Zambian government delayed several
hours in making an official announcement of Sata's death - at the
moment, no one knows who will take over. Local media reports that
cabinet met in the early hours of Monday morning to thrash out the
issue, with no resolution so far. Whoever does take over, however,
will only do so in a caretaker role until new elections are called
within 90 days.
Still, the power vacuum creates uncertainty, and the potential for
instability (although, given Zambia's long track record of peaceful
politics, this is highly unlikely to spill over into conflict). That
it has come to this is an indictment of Sata's record, and Zambians
would be right to feel aggrieved that he didn't deal with the issue
before it was too late.
They should also be angered at the government's lies and obfuscation
on the subject of Sata's health. By insisting the president was well
and in charge, they misled and manipulated the public. They lied, and
in doing so they undermined public trust in their government and
endangered the country's political security. If Sata's Patriotic Front
get punished in the polls for this - well, the party deserves it.
Zambia President Sata Dies Raising Succession Questions
The death of Zambian President Michael Sata at a hospital in London
yesterday is raising questions about who will replace him as head of
Africa's second-biggest copper producer.
Vice President Guy Scott should become acting leader, according to the
nation's constitution, while elections must be held in 90 days. Scott,
whose parents were born outside the southern African nation, doesn't
meet criteria to be a candidate in that vote. When Sata, 77, left
Zambia for medical treatment in London on Oct. 19, he named Defense
Minister Edgar Lungu acting president.
"There is a bit of a fight in the Patriotic Front to see who's going
to be the candidate and there's been a lot of jockeying and
positioning," Gary van Staden, a political analyst at Paarl, South
Africa-based NKC Independent Economists, said by phone. "That's all a
bit open at the moment."
Among the potential candidates to seek the ruling party's nomination
for president are Lungu, who Sata appointed as party
secretary-general, Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda or Wynter
Kabimba, former Patriotic Front secretary-general and ex-justice
The kwacha weakened 1.1 percent to 6.4275 per dollar by 9:33 a.m. in
Lusaka, the lowest since Aug. 15. Yields on Eurobonds due April 2024
rose one basis point to 6.5 percent.
"Cabinet are reportedly meeting," Razia Khan, head of Africa economic
research at Standard Chartered Plc in London, said in an e-mailed
response to questions. "We expect we will get confirmation of any
acting president shortly, while Zambia enters a period of mourning."
Zambian Vice-President Guy Scott has been named acting leader
following the death of President Michael Sata.
Presidential elections to choose a permanent successor will be held
within 90 days, Defence Minister Edgar Lungu said.
Mr Scott becomes Africa's first white head of state since FW de Klerk
in apartheid South Africa.
Climate change and lack of food security multiply risks of conflict and civil unrest in 32 countries - Maplecroft
Maplecroft identifies 32 'extreme risk' countries in its Climate
Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI), which evaluates the sensitivity of
populations, the physical exposure of countries, and governmental
capacity to adapt to climate change over the next 30 years. Bangladesh
(1st and most at risk), Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Nigeria, Chad,
Haiti, Ethiopia, Philippines, Central African Republic and Eritrea are
the ten countries facing the highest levels of risk, while the growth
economies of Cambodia (12), India (13), Myanmar (19), Pakistan (24)
and Mozambique (27) also feature in the 'extreme risk' category.
South Africa All Share Bloomberg
Dollar versus Rand 6 Month Chart INO 10.9603
Egypt Pound versus The Dollar 3 Month Chart INO 7.1469
Egypt EGX30 Bloomberg
Nigeria All Share Bloomberg
Ghana Stock Exchange Composite Index Bloomberg
Deals Lost as 14-Hour Ghana Blackouts Threaten Economy's Growth
The 57-year-old cosmetics company owner has turned down a deal to ship
her products to the U.S. because Ghana's power supply is too erratic.
"I had to let them go," she said in an interview at her office in
Accra, the capital, as she used a hand towel to wipe beads of sweat
from her face. The electricity's off, so there's no fan to ease the
33-degree Celsius (91-degree Fahrenheit) heat or machinery to make her
goods. "I don't have regular power to produce and supply the creams
and soaps to the market."
Ghana exports oil, is the world's second-biggest cocoa grower and the
largest gold producer on the continent after South Africa. That's not
been enough to keep the lights on with officially scheduled blackouts
lasting as long as 14 hours, slowing growth and forcing businesses
like Amey-Obeng's Forever Clair Group Co. to scale back and say no to
The West African nation's economy is set to expand 4.5 percent in
2014, compared with 7.1 percent a year earlier, according to the
International Monetary Fund. That would be the slowest pace in five
years and below the sub-Saharan African average of 5.1 percent. Ghana
is in talks with the IMF for an agreement that could lead to $800
million of aid as soon as January, Finance Minister Seth Terkper said
on Oct. 20.
That helped halt a slide in the cedi, Africa's worst performer against
the dollar this year. The currency gained 21 percent after retreating
to a record low of 3.8876 per dollar on Aug. 21. It traded 0.2 percent
weaker at 3.22 by 3:16 p.m. yesterday in Accra.
Companies are battling producer prices that soared an annual 48
percent in August, the most since at least 2007 when Bloomberg began
compiling the data. The cost of services from utilities rose 76
percent, according to the Ghana Statistical Service. Consumer
inflation advanced at an annual rate of 16.5 percent in September.
Power and water shortages, the effect of inflation on consumer and
business confidence and production problems at the Jubilee oil field,
Ghana's lone crude-exporting site, "will likely continue to depress
growth prospects," Standard & Poor's said on Oct. 24 as it cut the
nation's creditworthiness. The rating of B- is six steps below
investment grade and on par with Democratic Republic of Congo and
Egypt, the agency's lowest-rated African nations.
"We all expected that with the power cuts the generator business will
experience a boom, but it wasn't to be," General Manager Albert Arthur
said in an interview this month. The depreciating currency has made
products, which he ships from the U.K., too expensive. "The sale of
new gen sets are at an all-time low."
Ghana plans to add 770 megawatts of electricity to the national grid
by the end of 2015, Energy Minister Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah said in
an interview on Oct. 27. "We are attacking the situation head on and
pursuing our target of 5,000 megawatts of installed capacity by 2016,"
he said. "A lot of investments have been made," Buah said. "Our
current power crisis is temporary."
On Aug. 5, the U.S. government's Millennium Challenge Corp. announced
a $498 million, five-year program to support the transformation of
Ghana's power industry "and stimulate private investment," according
to a statement on its website.
"That investment, together with other donor and private-sector
participation, should provide a structural overhaul for the sector
over the medium term," Philippe de Pontet, Africa director with New
York-based Eurasia Group, said in an e-mailed response to questions on
Oct. 27. "But the road to get there will be bumpy."
For Amey-Obeng, the cuts at work and at home are making for sleepless
nights. "I am really tired now," she said. "I always hoped that things
will get better but the situation is getting worse by the day. I
really am contemplating giving up."
South Sudan rebels say they seize oil hub Bentiu; government denies it