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Iran's Ayatollah Sends New Letter to Obama Amid Nuclear Talks @WSJ
Law & Politics
Iran's paramount political figure, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei, has responded to overtures from President Barack Obama
seeking better relations by sending secret communications of his own
to the White House.
The Iranian cleric wrote to Mr. Obama in recent weeks in response to
an October presidential letter that raised the possibility of
U.S.-Iranian cooperation in fighting Islamic State if a nuclear deal
is secured, according to an Iranian diplomat. The supreme leader's
response was "respectful" but noncommittal, the diplomat said.
Some administration officials viewed the fact the Iranian cleric
responded at all as a signal he might be willing to forge a compromise
on the nuclear file. Neither he nor his predecessor, Ayatollah
Ruhollah Khomeini, had ever directly communicated with the U.S. since
the 1979 Islamic revolution, said U.S. and Iranian officials.
Mr. Khamenei's failure to reject outright the possibility of a
compromise on the nuclear file also raised hopes. "You don't know how
important it is for the supreme leader of Iran to actually write a
letter to the U.S.," said a second former U.S. official briefed on the
In his Feb. 8 speech, the supreme leader also said any agreement
reached next month must include the complete dismantling of Western
sanctions on Iran. U.S. negotiators have been discussing a phased
repeal that could take years.
"The sanctions must literally be taken away from the hands of the
enemy. The sanctions must be lifted," Mr. Khamenei said.
Iran experts worry Mr. Khamenei is demanding terms so high that they
will sink the talks and underpin his narrative that the Americans
can't be trusted.
"Khamenei has had a three-part approach toward the nuclear talks,"
said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace, a Washington think tank. "Support the
negotiations, undermine the negotiations with impossible redlines, and
prepare the country for a 'resistance economy,' which implies no
Havana was the Hors D'Ouevre and Tehran might well be the main Dish.
Medical staff at the Hastings Ebola Treatment Center escorts a man in the throes of Ebola-induced delirium back into the isolation ward from which he escaped in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Picture taken November 23, 2014. Photograph: Reuters/Handout
Law & Politics
We are in Donald Rumsfeld land, where there are known unknowns,
unknown unknowns and few knowns.
And because the stakes are so high, and so much for so many millions
hangs on the outcomes of the present crises, efforts at resolution
keep throwing up more known unknowns.
That's why, this week, the unknowns remain as unknown as ever. Next
week, there is a known. There will be more meetings.
The talks lasted more than 17 hours, during which a couple of
"buckets" of coffee were drunk, and took place in what Ukraine's FM
described as a "difficult psychological atmosphere".
Outside another room was a taped-up sheet of paper with the words "1
hour sleep, 3 hrs. awake, 1/2 hr. on knees, 1/2 sitting down, 1 hr.
standing, 1/2 hr. knees" written on it. At the bottom it read, "Repeat."
The markets don't appear to believe the Fed.
There is a significant difference between the interest-rate path that
Federal Reserve officials sketched in December, the last time they
made public projections, and the rates implied by trading in futures
markets. The markets see a smaller, more gradual increase in interest
rates than the now-famous dots that show where Fed officials expect
interest rates to go.
The chart above illustrates this, using the median forecast for Fed
funds from the Federal Reserve's December "Summary of Economic
Projections" alongside the rate implied by Fed funds futures for the
same month (light green) and for this week (dark green.) By January
2017, for instance, the markets project that Fed funds, which are now
around zero, will be up to 1.375%. In December, the median Fed
official saw 2.5%.
I think Janet Yellen will confound the markets.
16-FEB-2015 African Markets in 2015
Edwin Lefevre [whom I admire and who wrote the seminal Reminiscences
of a Stock Market Operator in 1923] said:
'"You can spot, for instance, where the buying is only a trifle better
than the selling. A battle goes on in the stock market and the tape is
your telescope. You can depend upon it seven out of ten cases''
That is how I first came to take an interest in the message of the
tape. The fluctuations were from the first associated in my mind with
upward or downward movements. Of course there is always a reason for
fluctuations, but the tape does not concern itself with the why and
wherefore. It doesn't go into explanations. I didn't ask the tape why
when I was 14 and I don't ask it to-day at 40.
The reason for what a certain stock does to-day may not be known for
two or three days, or weeks, or months. But what the dickens does that
matter? Your business with the tape is now not tomorrow. The reason
can wait. But you must act instantly or be left. Time and again I see
Now lets take a look at the Afri- can tape and lets start with Nigeria
because after all it is now [after last years rebasing] the elephant
in the Sub Saharan Africa room.
Nigeria's Central Bank chief said on Thursday there was "no need to
panic" about a slide in the cur- rency, after figures showed the bank
had been burning through more than $110 million a day in a vain
attempt to defend it. In my experience when a Central Banker tells you
there is "no need to panic'' it is actually time to panic which is
what investors are doing big time. The naira hit a record low Thursday
of 206.60 and has lost 25 per cent of its value versus the dollar in
90 days. An equivalent move in the shilling would have it trading at
close to 115. This is a melt-down in the naira pure and simple.
On January 21 I said this to Reuters: "The currency is headed to 220
... and Emefiele's finger in the dyke strategy is about to be
overwhelmed by a tsunami."
That tsunami to which I referred is now in play.
The Nigerian All Share has slumped -20.41 per cent this year and is
the worst performing index in the world in 2015. Investors are taking
a more than 40 per cent haircut [when you account for the currency]
and frankly, there is no turnaround in sight not with a delayed
presidential poll and a neck and neck position of 42 per cent for each
Nigeria's woes are entirely cor- related to the oil price and it is
oil that created a negative spillover in Nigeria, just as it did in
Russia, Venezuela, and Angola.
Here, our oil exploration is a no- go. Tullow Oil declared that they
are decommissioning three out of four rigs.
"We will gradually wind them [three rigs] down throughout the year;
we've still allocated signifi- cant capital to Kenya [and plan to]
continue exploration at a more modest pace as you'd expect with the
oil price," Tullow's chief oprat- ing officer Paul McDade said to the
FT. Kenya's oil exploration has become collateral damage in the oil
Now all this destabilisation and interference in naira Land has sent
monies that were marked with the tag 'Destination Lagos' to
'Destination Egypt' [The EGX30 has stormed +9.23 per cent higher in
2015 and is the third best performing index world-wide in 2015]. In
South Africa [The All Share surged to an all time high last week and
is +6.51 per cent this year] and in Kenya the Nairobi All Share closed
at a record high every session last week.
Democratic Republic of Congo will hold a presidential poll in November next year, but under certain conditions, the election commission said Thursday, announcing the long-awaited voting calendar.
The issue of the next presidential election lies at the heart of
political tensions in the country, with deadly protests erupting in
January over opposition fears that the incumbent Joseph Kabila was
trying to extend his stay in power.
The vote will take place on November 27, 2016, at the same time as
legislative elections, Independent National Electoral Commission
official Jean-Pierre Kalamba said.
Kalamba added, however, that the election depended on certain
conditions, including the availability of funds to organise the polls,
the updating of the electoral roll and issues surrounding
parliamentary seat allocation.
Speaking anonymously, one minister swiftly cast doubt on the electoral
programme, saying that the $1.1 billion sought by the electoral
commission for the elections was "not tenable," even with
Burundi: Summary Executions by Army, Police
A sign welcoming visitors to Murwi, a commune in Burundi's
northwestern province of Cibitoke. Burundian military and police
summarily executed at least 47 members of an armed group who had
surrendered in Murwi and Bukinanyana communes between December 30,
2014, and January 3, 2015.
Chinese-built railway in Angola opens
A 1,344-kilometer railway built by China Railway Construction
Corporation (CRCC) for Angola was completed and open to traffic on
Saturday, the company told Xinhua.
The railway linking the coastal city of Lobito in the west and Luau
bordering DR Congo is the second longest railway built by a Chinese
company for Africa, after the Tanzania-Zambia railway.
The Tanzania-Zambia railway was built in the 1970s.