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Tariff Man AN ORIGIN STORY @nytimes
This story starts in the 1980s. Donald J. Trump had built an empire on
real estate, with a big boost from his father. But all around him, he
saw a growing threat to American business: Japan, the second-largest
economy on the planet.
It was the era of the Sony Walkman and the Panasonic VCR. Japanese
electronics reigned supreme, and Toyota and Honda sedans filled
For Mr. Trump, the ascendancy struck especially close to home in 1989.
That year, Japanese buyers, in their latest trophy deal, bought
Rockefeller Center in Manhattan.
To combat Japan’s rise, Mr. Trump argued in a TV interview that the
United States should slap a 20 percent tax on its imports, including
on cars and VCRs.
Near the end of the 20th century, glimmers of Mr. Trump’s presidential
dreams began to emerge, with trade at the top of his agenda. In 1999,
he announced, on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” that he would consider
running for president as a Reform Party candidate.
On the show, he said the North American Free Trade Agreement would be
a “disaster.” He blamed Japan for subsidizing its car industry and
took aim at South Korean shippers.
When he went on the campaign trail in 2016, Mr. Trump began to gain
strength in factory towns around the United States decimated by the
flood of cheap Chinese goods.
While Thor had his thunderbolt, Mr. Trump had his tariffs. With them, he was …
In time, the son of Queens had become the Man of Steel. He
successfully wielded tariffs to bring China to the negotiating table,
with plans to strike a deal in a matter of months.
But will China change its ways? Will a trade war hurt the United
States? Will China’s economy stumble? What does it all mean for the
relationship between the two countries? To be continued …
"Now the road was crossing orange groves in flower, and the nuptial scent of the blossoms absorbed the rest as a full moon does a landscape" - Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa , The Leopard
“Now the road was crossing orange groves in flower, and the nuptial
scent of the blossoms absorbed the rest as a full moon does a
landscape; the smell of sweating horses, the smell of leather from the
carriage upholstery, the smell of Prince and the smell of Jesuit, were
all cancelled out by that Islamic perfume evoking houris and fleshly
joys beyond the grave.”
― Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, The Leopard
“The truth is that he wanted to draw a little comfort from gazing at
the stars. There were still one or two up there, at the zenith. As
always, seeing them revived him; they were distant, they were
omnipotent and at the same time they were docile to his calculations;
just the contrary to humans, always too near, so weak and yet so
quarrelsome.” ― Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, The Leopard
"As of August 2018, the total population of the world exceeds 7.63 billion people"
Law & Politics
As of August 2018, the total population of the world exceeds 7.63
billion people, and this number is continuing to grow each day.
However, in some areas, growth is slowing or even declining.
China is the most populous country in the world with a population
exceeding 1.4 billion. It is one of just two countries with a
population of more than 1 billion, with India being the second.
As of 2018, India has a population of over 1.355 billion people.
However, its growth is expected to continue through at least 2050.
By the year 2030, the India is expected to become the most populous
country in the world. This is because India’s population will grow,
while China will see a loss in population.
The next 11 countries that are the most populous in the world each
have populations exceeding 100 million. These include the United
States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Russia,
Mexico, Japan, Ethiopia and the Philippines. Of these nations, all are
expected to continue to grow with the exception of Russia and Japan,
which will see their populations drop by 2030 before dropping again
significantly by 2050.
There are many other nations that have populations of at least one
million, while there are also countries that have just thousands. The
smallest population in the world can be found in Vatican City, where
just 801 people reside.
In 2018, the world’s population grew at a rate of 1.12%. Every five
years since the 1970s, the growth rate has continued to fall. The
world’s population is expected to continue to grow larger, but at a
much slower rate.
By 2030, the population will exceed 8 billion. In 2040, this number
will grow to more than 9 billion.
In 2055, the number will rise to over 10 billion, and another billion
people won’t be added until near the end of the century.
The current annual population growth estimates from the United Nations
are in the millions - estimating that over 80 million new lives are
added each year.
Law & Politics
Donald Trump owes his current lofty position, in large part, to
tabloid journalism and its offshoots. During the nineteen-eighties,
when he was an up-and-comer on the New York real-estate scene, he was
constantly planting puff stories about himself in the city’s tabloids,
sometimes by posing as a fictitious spokesman, John Barron. (“I
believe on occasion I used that name,” he conceded during a 1990
deposition.) In 1990, his nasty split from his first wife, Ivana,
played out on the front pages of the Post and the Daily News,
enhancing his celebrity status. During the nineteen-nineties, huge
debts forced some of Trump’s businesses into bankruptcy, but he
resurrected his career by persuading the banks not to abandon him and,
eventually, by becoming a star on reality television, itself a
bastardized form of tabloid journalism. In turn, the persona of the
ruthlessly decisive mogul that Trump affected on “The Apprentice”
provided a platform for his successful Presidential campaign. What
greater irony could there be, therefore, than the fact that it is
Trump’s links to the tabloid world—rather than his campaign’s ties to
Russia, or his self-dealing—that is now posing the most immediate
threat to his Presidency.
10-DEC-2018 :: Truce dinner @Huawei
Law & Politics
Sirloin steaks, Catena Zapata Nicolas Malbec  Huawei
Technologies Co. and Wanzhou Meng
You will recall that Presidents Trump and Xi Jinping enjoyed a much
anticipated ''Truce'' Dinner at the G20 in Buenos Aires and quaffed a
Catena Zapata Nicolas Malbec  wine with their sirloin steaks and
finished it all off with caramel rolled pancakes, crispy chocolate and
fresh cream, a dinner that ran over by 60 minutes and one where the
dinner Guests broke out into spontaneous applause thereafter.
Saudi Arabia seeks new political bloc in strategic Red Sea region @Reuters
Law & Politics
Saudi Arabia is seeking an alliance with six countries bordering the
Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, a strategic area vital to global
shipping and increasingly an arena of contention with regional rivals
like Iran, Turkey and Qatar.
Representatives from Egypt, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Jordan
gathered in Riyadh on Wednesday to discuss the initiative without
reaching final agreement. A team of experts is expected to meet “soon”
in Cairo for technical talks.
Eritrea, with Red Sea islands and a mainland coastline of
1,150-kilometres (715 miles), was not present. Nor was Ethiopia, which
has no access to the sea but the largest population in the Horn of
“This is part of the kingdom’s efforts to protect its interests and
those of its neighbors and ... to stabilize the region that we live in
and to try to create synergies between the various countries...” Saudi
Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters after a day of
“The more cooperation and coordination that you have among the
countries of this region, the less negative outside influence will be
on this region,” he said.
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf ally the United Arab Emirates increasingly
view the Horn of Africa coastline as their “western security flank”
and fear their adversaries could gain a foothold in the region.
06-AUG-2018 :: The Indian Ocean Economy and a Port Race
Law & Politics
Today from Massawa, Eritrea [admittedly on the Red Sea] to Djibouti,
from Berbera to Mogadishu, from Lamu to Mombasa to Tanga to Bagamoyo
to Dar Es Salaam, through Beira and Maputo all the way to Durban and
all points in between we are witnessing a Port race of sorts as
everyone seeks to get a piece of the Indian Ocean Port action. China
[The BRI initiative], the Gulf Countries [who now appear to see the
Horn of Africa as their hinter- land], Japan and India [to a lesser
degree] are all jostling for optimal ‘’geo-economic’’ positioning.
More than 730 armed thugs are ready to launch provocations & to attack military bases in #Venezuela - #Maduro
“John Bolton is leading the plan to unleash violence and conduct a
coup to introduce a transitional government” in Venezuela, Maduro said
at a press-conference, which was broadcast live on his Facebook page.
“Bolton is preparing a plan for my assassination.”
According to the Venezuelan leader, Bolton’s plot is being carried out
with the heavy involvement of Colombia, with its president Ivan Duque
being “his accomplice.” Maduro then slammed Duque as Washington’s
puppet, who “can’t even go to the toilet without permission from the
US ambassador in Bogota.”
In early August, blasts were heard as Maduro attended a military
parade in the capital, Caracas. The Venezuelan authorities announced
that it was a failed assassination attempt against the president,
which involved drones carrying bombs. Other reports insisted that the
panic actually was caused by an explosion of household gas.
Maduro returned to that incident during his press-conference, saying
that he had “no doubts that the drones were prepared in Colombia under
the supervision of [then Colombian president Juan Manuel] Santos, but
on the direct order from the White House.”
Yemen war: At least six times as many killed in conflict than previously thought, report says @Independent
Law & Politics
The number of people killed by the violence in Yemen has for the first
time risen above 3,000 dead in a single month, bringing the total
number of fatalities to over 60,000 since the start of 2016. The
figure is six times greater than the out-of-date figure of 10,000 dead
often cited in the media and by politicians.
“We have recorded 3,068 people killed in November, bringing the total
number of Yemenis who have died in the violence to 60,223 since
January 2016,” says Andrea Carboni, a researcher on Yemen for the
Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), formerly based
at Sussex University, that studies conflicts and seeks to establish
the real casualty level.
The figures do not include the Yemenis who have died through
starvation or malnutrition – the country is on the brink of famine,
according to the UN – or from illnesses caused by the war such as
The coalition has been trying since March 2015 to reinstate in power
Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, whose government had been overthrown by the
rebel Houthi movement in late 2014.
The number of those who have already died in Yemen may soon be far
surpassed by the number likely to die because of hunger and disease.
Some 20 million people are not getting enough to eat – 70 per cent of
the population – and for the first time, 250,000 are facing
“catastrophe”, according to the UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock,
who has recently returned from Yemen.
Bitcoin Sinks Nearer to $3,000 Level as December Losses Mount @business 3,251.00
Bitcoin headed for another weekly slump on Friday, with the largest
cryptocurrency heading closer to $3,000 -- a level unseen since
September last year.
The largest digital currency edged 0.5 percent higher to $3,272 at
9:35 a.m. in Hong Kong after earlier tumbling as much as 6 percent in
U.S. hours, according to consolidated pricing compiled by Bloomberg.
It remains down about 3 percent for the week. The wider Bloomberg
Galaxy Crypto Index is on a five-week losing streak.
Cryptocurrencies have wiped out $730 billion in market value from a
January peak this year, according to data compiled by
CoinMarketCap.com. Widespread mainstream institutional adoption failed
to materialize amid ongoing security concerns and regulatory
26-NOV-2018 :: Armageddon Cryptogeddon and BITCOIN.
It was an in an article on Dec 30th 2016 that I wrote that my
conviction Trade for 2017 was 1. Long BITCOIN. BITCOIN was trading at
levels around $1,000.00 going into 2017. My Thesis was that BITCOIN
and the entire crypto-currency World which had been very esoteric and
something of a closed World of ''bug-eyed'' Gamers and the Off-Grid
Folks who wanted throw the Yoke of Government off their backs, would
''mainstream'' And it ''mainstreamed'' beyond my wildest dreams
through 2017. By November 2017 BITCOIN was knocking on the door of
$10,0000.00 and on the 27th November 2017, I wrote an article
captioned Bitcoin "Wow! What a Ride!" and advised booking the profits
on the Trade. A more than 9.7x Price Inflation was getting
uncomfortably close to outpacing the Tulip Mania [see Graph] BITCOIN's
parabolic price rally had spawned thousands of other crypto currencies
which were sold on the same grounds as the greatest South Sea Bubble
prospectus: “For carrying on an undertaking of great advantage, but
nobody to know what it is.”
The Price inflated further reaching a high of $19,763.00 on 18 dec
2017. By the first of January this year we had retreated to
$13,428.00. On the 02-JAN-2018 I reiterated my Point to get out and
said '' I am no longer bullish bitcoin, in fact, I am bearish'' At
this point in time, I met Folks on these Streets who would pull out
their Computer and show me how they were making money every second
[Look at that they would say and indeed There was a number and it was
ticking higher] mining BITCOIN. The recent cryptocurrency market
decline has resulted in a similar drop in mining profitability and
forced Chinese operators to sell their mining devices at a loss. Some
mining machines are being sold on the second-hand market for merely 5
percent of their original value. Others would tell me, I've bought
Nvidia. Crypto at this point was at Peak Phenomenon.
As I write this BITCOIN is trading at $3,650.00. I think its going
right back to levels below $1,000.00.
We have yet to hit peak melt-down. The reason being so many Folks
espouse the HODL philosophy.
GameKyuubi posted "I AM HODLING," a drunk, semi-coherent, typo-laden
rant about his poor trading skills and determination to simply hold
his bitcoin from that point on. "I type d that tyitle twice because I
knew it was wrong the first time. Still wrong. w/e," he wrote in
reference to the now-famous misspelling of "holding." "WHY AM I
HOLDING? I'LL TELL YOU WHY," he continued. "It's because I'm a bad
trader and I KNOW I'M A BAD TRADER. Yeah you good traders can spot
the highs and the lows pit pat piffy wing wong wang just like that and
make a millino bucks sure no problem bro."
He concluded that the best course was to hold, since "You only sell in
a bear market if you are a good day trader or an illusioned noob. The
people inbetween hold. In a zero-sum game such as this, traders can
only take your money if you sell." He then confessed he'd had some
whiskey and briefly mused about the spelling of whisk(e)y. [HODL
Definition | Investopedia]
Selling at todays levels frankly is still a great Trade.
Bitcoin is . Will it ever recover? @bponsot 3,251.00
27-NOV-2017 :: Bitcoin "Wow! What a Ride!" @TheStarKenya
“But it is a curve each of them feels, unmistakably.It is the
parabola. They must have guessed, once or twice -guessed and refused
to believe- that everything, always, collectively, had been moving
toward that purified shape latent in the sky, that shape of no
surprise, no second chance, no return.’’
Let me leave you with Hunter S. Thompson, “Life should not be a
journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty
and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of
smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming
“Wow! What a Ride!”
The U.S. is cutting 10 percent of its counterterrorism troops in
Africa. Will China and Russia fill the gap?
The Trump administration has declared a new era of Great Power
competition, shifting U.S. national security priorities from
counterterrorism after almost two decades to long-term strategic
threats from countries like Russia and China.
But in Africa — a contested battlefield where those adversaries are
vying for strategic influence — policy experts warn that the U.S.
hasn’t been playing the game. The Pentagon has escalated
counterterrorism strikes and special operations missions across the
continent in a quietly expanding mission. Some lawmakers and former
officials for years have warned that the U.S. has relied too heavily
on elite operators for short-term tactical missions that aren’t
underpinned by an holistic strategy or complemented by non-military
efforts and, in Africa, that dynamic is particularly stark.
Gen. Tony Thomas, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command, or
SOCOM, told a conference audience in Austin earlier this month that
“there has been a realization that [Africa] is a great power
China in particular is expanding its military footprint on the
continent, partly by leveraging its expanding economic activities via
a sweeping infrastructure program called the Belt and Road Initiative,
and partly by building on decades of financial and political
involvement in several countries. Russia also has sought to gain a
foothold across the continent with military cooperation agreements and
arms deals, and in September announced an agreement to build a
logistics base in Eritrea, on the Red Sea.
“Basically we are missing the boat in Africa,” said Mary Beth Long, a
CIA veteran and former assistant secretary of defense for
International Security Affairs. “We’re not even clear from an
intelligence standpoint on what the underpinnings of a strategy would
attempt to address and in part that’s because we have inadequate
resources dedicated to the African continent.”
National Security Advisor John Bolton is scheduled to unveil the Trump
administration’s new strategy for the continent in a speech to the
conservative Heritage Foundation on Thursday. It is expected to focus
on countering near-peer adversaries rather than counterterrorism. The
White House is not expected to ask for more funding for diplomacy,
intelligence gathering or foreign aid, according to NBC News.
The announcement comes just weeks after the Pentagon said it would be
cutting 10 percent of its troop presence in Africa over the next
several years, including half of the counterterrorism forces operating
in West Africa. The Defense Department said in a statement that the
goal was to “realign our counter-terrorism resources and forces
operating in Africa over the next several years in order to maintain a
competitive posture worldwide.”
For others, the drawdown is concerning from a counterterrorism
perspective. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called the planned drawdown
in Africa “an incredibly bad move,” arguing that as Islamist
extremists are defeated in the Mideast, they will reemerge in unstable
places in Africa.
“I think the war’s moving to Africa,” he said. But: “If you have to
pick and choose [between countering nation-state threats and
countering terrorist threats], you’re making a mistake…. If you start
picking and choosing, taking soldiers from counterterrorism,
counterinsurgency and move them over, you’re basically putting
yourself at risk.”
In some parts of Africa, the counterterrorism mission remains
untouched. In Somalia, U.S. military and intelligence forces are
battling al-Shabaab fighters with airstrikes and ground operations
alongside and in support of Somali commandos. This year, there have
been 37 U.S. airstrikes in Somalia — more than in any previous year,
according to data maintained by The Long War Journal. U.S Africa
Command, or AFRICOM, has announced seven major strikes in the past
four weeks, each alleging to have killed multiple al-Shabaab members.
Trump’s new Africa strategy is a clear effort to address that tension.
It is expected to call for strengthening ties with countries that are
likely targets for U.S. competitors and adversaries, and countering
the ability of those countries to gain footholds in unstable areas
through economic investment. Although the strategy will call for
continuing key counterterror partnerships, like with Somali forces,
according to NBC News, the focus is shifting away from countering
extremist groups to long-term, strategic nation-state threats. But
it’s difficult to see what the U.S. might do differently, at least
from a military perspective, without more resources, policy experts
say. The Trump administration already is building partnerships with
African governments and experts say trying to counter Russia and
China’s individual engagements would create opportunities for host
countries to play the powers off of one another.
“I don’t know what you would actually do to shift your focus in Africa
beyond what we’re already doing,” Devermont said.
Experts are quick to caution that just like in the United States,
Africa is not at the top of the priority list for China and Russia.
But for Africans, Devermont noted, the return of great power
competition isn’t a negative thing. Nor, he says, are Russia and China
the only game in town. The UAE, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, and
other nations are engaging in Africa.
“[Africans] don’t see this as zero-sum,” he said. “It provides new
resources, gives them new leverage, lessens dependence. It’s very
difficult for us to talk to the Africans about ‘you’re with us’ or
‘you’re with them’—that’s not the paradigm the Africans are going to
“We’re talking with one set of talking points and the Africans have
very different ones.”
When in Kinshasa you gotta pay visit to the forgotten Kings of
Fashion Les Sapeurs! #Congo #Lessapeurs @tresorofficial
Congo voting machines razed in fire 10 days ahead of poll @FT
A fire at a warehouse in the Congolese capital Kinshasa has destroyed
thousands of voting machines intended for use in the country’s
long-delayed presidential election.
The suspected arson attack, which started in the early hours of
Thursday, has heightened tensions surrounding the poll and the
government’s controversial decision to introduce an electronic voting
With less than 10 days to find replacement equipment, it also casts
doubt on the electoral commission’s ability to hold the vote in
Kinshasa, Congo’s biggest city.
The election that marks country’s first transition via the ballot box,
has been delayed for two years, stoking suspicion that President
Joseph Kabila — who has agreed to step down after 17 years in office —
may still want to influence the outcome of the vote.
The opposition has questioned the independence of the electoral
commission and the integrity of the untested electronic voting system,
in some cases calling on voters to break the machines. This week, as
tensions mounted on the campaign trail, security forces attacked
opposition rallies in the south-east of the country.
About 7,000 voting machines were lost in the fire, as well as ballot
boxes and other materials, Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi, Mr Kabila’s
chief diplomatic adviser, said on Thursday.
“It is incredibly serious” Mr Kikaya said by phone from Kinshasa. An
investigation is under way but the government suspects it was a
criminal attack and the facility’s security guards were being
interviewed, he said.
The fire has already provoked a series of claims and counter-claims
from Congo’s divided political class, said Stephanie Wolters a Congo
expert at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, South
“Civil society and the opposition are accusing the government of
committing arson in order to justify a further election delay, in an
indication of just how high levels of distrust and suspicion are,” she
The electoral commission, also known as CENI, said in a statement that
the fire would not derail the vote, which is still scheduled for 23
But the loss of so many voting machines so close to election day is a
major challenge. As the presidential, parliamentary and provincial
elections will take place on the same day, the devices are programmed
for deployment in specific constituencies. It means the electoral
commission must not only find replacement machines, but also programme
each device for use in Kinshasa, Mr Kikaya said.
The CENI does have approximately 30,000 spare voting machines, out of
a total of about 105,000, due to be used around the country as extra
devices, but the deployment of equipment was running behind schedule
in some areas and overdue training of more than 500,000 election staff
was expected to continue right up until voting day.
A puppet is set to replace the president @TheEconomist
“We want election day to be a party, not a day people lose their
lives,” says President Joseph Kabila (pictured). After a ballot
scheduled for December 23rd, he is planning to step down, he says.
Having ruled the Democratic Republic of Congo for 18 years, he is
constitutionally required to. Entertaining foreign journalists (a rare
event) at his farm east of Kinshasa, the capital, he is mild-mannered.
He chuckles at tough questions, and wanders off topic when disinclined
to answer. Asked if the election will be free and fair, however, he is
direct: “No question about that.” Few outside his circle concur.
Still, it will be the first time that Congo has ever changed its
leader at the ballot box. Mobutu Sese Seko, a kleptocrat who grabbed
power in 1965 and used public cash to swill pink champagne and charter
Concorde to go shopping in Paris, fled his palace moments before it
was ransacked by soldiers in 1997. The man who toppled him, Laurent
Kabila, was shot dead by a bodyguard in 2001. His son has ruled ever
since, locking up critics and crushing protests. In recent years
thousands have died violently.
The election has been a long time coming. The constitution required Mr
Kabila to step down in 2016. He tried to change it, failed, and stuck
around for two more years anyway. The Catholic Church, one of Congo’s
few well-functioning institutions, organised peaceful protests calling
for him to step down. On three Sundays, congregations in Kinshasa
marched out of church after mass waving palm fronds and placards. The
police sprayed them with tear gas and bullets, killing 18 people and
dumping bodies in the river.
Mr Kabila probably will step down, having been pressed to do so by
Angola, South Africa and other African states that fear chaos if he
lingers. But it would be foolish to expect voting day to be jolly.
More than 100 rebel groups are at large. A jihadist militia,
reportedly with links to Islamic State, is terrorising an eastern area
that is also being ravaged by Ebola. Many Congolese will be too
nervous to vote.
Few trust the electoral commission, widely believed to be in Mr
Kabila’s pocket. Polling booths may well go up in flames. Two people
were killed by police at an opposition rally in the capital on
December 11th. Some 105,000 electronic voting tablets from South Korea
have been nicknamed machines à voler (stealing machines). Delivering
them to 84,000 polling stations, many in remote areas accessible only
by helicopter, boat or motorbike, will be tricky. If batteries go
flat, it will be hard to recharge them. Only 1% of people in rural
Congo have access to electricity.
“Voting takes a minute,” says Corneille Nangaa, the commission’s head.
It may take rather longer. Jean-Pierre Bemba, an opposition leader and
former warlord barred from standing, says it will take an average of
six minutes, partly because so many voters are unused to technology.
If so, Congo’s 40m voters (in a population of maybe 82m) would need at
least two days to cast their ballots. Mr Nangaa says voting must not
exceed 24 hours.
If the election is too obviously flawed and enough people in and
outside Congo complain, it could be invalidated and put off yet
again—leaving Mr Kabila in power. If not, the winner is likely to be
Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, Mr Kabila’s handpicked successor, a former
interior minister. The eu has just renewed sanctions against him for
the part he played in suppressing protests in 2016 and 2017, so he
will not be able to visit it. “Congo is as big as the European Union,
so Shadary will have so many provinces to cover,” says Mr Kabila
breezily. “I don’t think he will miss Europe.”
Mr Shadary faces a weak opposition. Two of his most serious rivals, Mr
Bemba and Moïse Katumbi, a former governor, were prevented from
running. The rest of the opposition has splintered. In a short-lived
moment of hope last month, seven opposition leaders said they had
chosen a single candidate, but within a day two of them peeled off to
form a rival coalition.
Mr Kabila says he will keep himself busy spending time with his
mother. He will also lend a hand to Mr Shadary (or any other winner).
He may even try to run again for president next time around, as the
constitution allows, perhaps having pulled Mr Shadary’s strings for
five years. He is studiously vague about this: “2023 is way away.” At
a summit in August he told leaders that he would not say goodbye but
rather “à bientôt” (see you soon). Did this mean he plans to return?
“I was paraphrasing a movie I have seen very often...when Arnold
Schwarzenegger says ‘I’ll be back’. So don’t take lots of my jokes out
Mr Kabila has stayed in power by keeping friends and rivals weak. The
army is often without ammunition, save for the presidential guard. Mr
Kabila’s loyalists have been slotted into the constitutional court and
electoral commission. Anyone who becomes too popular is in danger.
Denis Mukwege, the winner of this year’s Nobel peace prize for
treating victims of wartime rape, survived an assassination attempt in
2012. An army general with a big following was murdered in 2014.
Mr Kabila will want his successor to protect the wealth he has
accrued. He and his family have interests in mines, banks, real
estate, farms and airlines. Their companies have permits for diamond
mining that extend along Congo’s southern border with Angola. His farm
at Kingakati adjoins a game park teeming with imported giraffes, rhino
“What happens when the lizard becomes the crocodile?” is a Congolese
adage. Could Mr Shadary, once in office, bare his teeth at Mr Kabila?
If Mr Shadary were to follow the example of Angola’s president, João
Lourenço, he could tell the taxman to take a hard look at his
predecessor’s family. However, lacking a base of his own, most notably
in the army or security services, Mr Shadary is unlikely to do so.
South Sudan's neighbours help launder the loot from its civil war Pilfered petrodollars pay for plush pads in Nairobi @TheEconomist
“I am not a rich man,” pleaded Paul Malong, the ex-chief of South
Sudan’s army, in an interview on Kenyan television. Shaking his head,
he denied having plundered state coffers or being responsible for war
crimes committed by his troops. “I am just a family man,” he
The Sentry, a watchdog backed by George Clooney, an actor, says that
Mr Malong owns at least two big houses in Uganda and a $2m mansion in
a gated community in Nairobi.
Since South Sudan’s independence in 2011 its leaders have pillaged the
country (see article). Nearly $7bn has gone missing since 2012,
reckons Kenya’s Institute of Economic Affairs, a think-tank.
Petrodollars vanish. Powerful wrongdoers are seldom punished.
Partly because the state is easy to plunder, big men fight for control
of it. South Sudan’s conflict, which started five years ago on
December 15th, has caused perhaps half a million deaths, mostly by
aggravating hunger and disease. Neighbours have hosted peace talks,
paid for by donors. But they have done little to stop the laundering
of the loot.
A report by a un Panel of Experts raised concerns that oil firms were
making large prepayments for oil that is yet to be produced. Although
not necessarily corrupt, these deals are presumably concluded with
those currently in power, rather than with those who will take over.
“It looks like they were offshoring money very rapidly, ” says Klem
Ryan, who served on the panel. Other resources such as teak and gold
are also smuggled out of South Sudan. Some of the proceeds go to rebel
groups and government forces.
Kenya’s financial authorities have yet to take any action against
banks suspected of holding South Sudanese loot. Both Kenya and Uganda
lobbied against America’s efforts to impose un sanctions, despite
paying lip service to them, says Zach Vertin, the author of a new book
about the war.
There are signs that the West is getting tougher about enforcing
sanctions. In a visit to Uganda in June an American Treasury official
warned local banks that they would be cut off from America’s financial
system if they did not stop South Sudanese bigwigs from buying
property with dodgy cash. Kenya’s banks may soon be “grey-listed” by
the Financial Action Task Force, the world’s primary
anti-money-laundering body, which would discourage other banks from
dealing with them.
But David Ndii of Africa Economics, a think-tank in Nairobi, doubts
regional authorities will ever really clamp down. “Money-laundering is
very big business,” he says. “There is absolutely no domestic
political interest to rock the boat.”
Cashgate How a scandal started with a poor housemaid and ended up taking down the most powerful woman in Africa @Medium
Many centuries before Paul Mphwiyo was shot in the face, there was a
hill in East Africa settled by a clan searching for edible roots. One
group from the clan slept at the bottom of the hill and one group
slept at the top. The people who slept at the top of the hill, the
Phiri, were known for their political power. The people who slept at
the bottom of the hill, the Banda, were known for their ability to
make rain. Once they had been a single clan, but the hill turned them
into two. Years later, those two clans would help establish the
country of Malawi.
Not far from the same hill, many years later, a housemaid who went by
the nickname Anaphiri — meaning her family hailed from the Phiri clan
— earned $48 a month cooking, cleaning and taking care of a child for
a family in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. She was in her 40s and
spent almost all her time behind the wall that surrounded the family’s
home. She’d been working full time for them for six months when, in
early September 2013, she told them she was going to a funeral and
never returned. When she left, Anaphiri took with her three million
kwacha in cash, a king’s ransom in Malawi.
According to one version of Anaphiri’s story, she gave part or all of
the stolen money to her good-for-nothing son, who went around spending
it at the bars in Blantyre, Malawi’s other major city, like he was
some big-shot. Everyone at the bars knew the son was dead broke, and
their jealous chatter eventually reached the local police. Questioned
about the source of the money, the son led police back to his mother,
Anaphiri, a lowly housemaid who had no business at all having three
million kwacha, then worth about $9,000. The housemaid told the police
she stole the money from her employer, a young government worker named
When the authorities showed up at Sithole’s house on Sept. 7, 2013, he
was basically a nobody. In six years of working as an accounts
assistant in Malawi’s Ministry of Climate Change, he hadn’t gotten a
single promotion. He was 27 years old and earning 40,000 kwacha, or
$120 per month — enough in Malawi to rent a small home and pay for
food, electricity, shared transport and a mobile phone. Not enough to
ever own a car or a new computer or to buy a plane ticket.
Until just a few weeks before Anaphiri stole the money, Sithole and
his family had been living in Lilongwe’s Area 25, a modest
neighborhood of small brick homes crossed by uneven dirt roads. It’s
hardly the poorest part of the city — that would probably be Mtandire,
a dense neighborhood mostly lacking running water and electricity —
but it’s far from the wealthiest. In addition to his job in
government, Sithole owned a bar that brought in $100 a month. He also
bought and sold maize and other common Malawian crops for extra
income. Sithole was better off than most Malawians but not by much.
Then during the summer of 2013, he suddenly moved the family to Area
47, where houses have manicured grass, sculpted bushes, security
guards and high walls. Area 47 looks like a paranoid version of a San
Francisco suburb. Successful business owners, ambassadors and
expatriates — the 1 percent of Malawi — tend to live there. People who
drive nice cars, own iPhones and dine at Western-style restaurants.
The police that came to Area 47 that morning encountered a young man
living well above his means; the rent on his new house was 250,000
kwacha, six times his monthly salary. But that was barely a blip
compared to what else police found: lots and lots of cash. Inside a
Toyota Fortuner, police discovered 80 million kwacha, and in a Toyota
Vitz another 32 million. When they searched the house, they found
121,000 in South African rand and $32,000. The police arrested Sithole
for possession of stolen property and illegal possession of foreign
currency. The total value of the money discovered at his house
amounted to roughly $380,000. It would have taken Sithole 263 years to
earn that much with his government job.
“The whole entire government of Malawi is a criminal enterprise,”
Mphwiyo told me. “That is what I discovered.”
Africa's Biggest Grocer @Shoprite_SA Opens Doors in Kenya to Battle @CarrefourKe @business
Shoprite Holdings Ltd. is seeking a foothold in Kenya’s retail
industry, where the collapse of two local supermarket chains has
created opportunities for Africa’s biggest grocer and its
The Cape Town-based firm opens its first store in Nairobi on Thursday,
at a site previously occupied by struggling Nakumatt Holdings Ltd.,
which has shuttered all but six stores in East Africa’s biggest
French retailer Carrefour SA, Wal-Mart Inc.-controlled Massmart
Holdings Ltd. and Choppies Enterprises Ltd. of Botswana are also
seeking to fill space left by the debt-ridden company and state-backed
Uchumi Supermarkets Plc, which is facing a winding-up petition.
Up for grabs is a market with a formal retail penetration of 33
percent, meaning about a third of shopping is done in stores rather
than market places.
That makes Kenya the second-biggest retail center in Africa behind
South Africa, according to a study by Nielsen. The target is to grow
the ratio to 35 percent by end of 2019, according to Chris Kiptoo,
principal secretary at Kenya’s state department of trade.
Shoprite’s plan to expand in that market is hampered by competition,
particularly from Paris-based Carrefour, which is driving up rental
costs, according to Gerhard Fritz, Shoprite’s head of operations
outside South Africa.
“Due to the aggressive expansion of Carrefour there are no cheap sites
left behind with the demise of Nakumatt and Uchumi,” he said in an
emailed response to questions. “We have declined some sites as we feel
rentals are too high. Landlords are having a field day playing each
off against each other.”
Even so, Shoprite is scheduled to open three more stores in Kenya next
year, he said. For Carrefour’s part, the retailer has trebled its
number of outlets in the country to six in the past year and has two
more opening in coming weeks. Nakumatt, which applied to the High
Court to be placed under administration in October, 2017, had 62
branches across the East African region.
Ouko wants 4 NSSF fund managers fired Daily Nation
Mr Ouko, in the NSSF’s financial statement for the year ended June
2017 published Thursday, wants GenAfrica, Britam, Old Mutual and
Stanlib locked out for exposing workers to possible loss of Sh969.72
million in collapsed Imperial and Chase banks.
The four fund managers have been accused of recklessly investing a
cumulative Sh996.4 million – comprised of Sh666.90 million in
corporate bonds and Sh329.5 million in fixed deposits – in the two
Mr Ouko says only Sh26.68 million of the cash invested between
September and October 2015, and which was not disclosed in previous
financial statements, had been recovered as at June 2017.
He argues that the NSSF did not receive value for the Sh181.52 million
it paid out to the fund managers in consultancy fees during the year
ended June 2017.
“It’s also not clear whether the deposits were insured,” Mr Ouko says.
“The three-year contracts of the current fund managers were renewed in
the year 2014/15 (July 2014-June 2018), and it is recommended that the
fund managers be changed on expiry of their contracts.”
Old Mutual Asset Managers, the statement shows, injected Sh417.7
million of the NSSF funds into the two beleaguered lenders followed by
Britam with Sh391 million.
GenAfrica, majority-owned by New York-based Kuramo Capital, bet
Sh218.5 million of the workers’ savings in Imperial and Chase, while
Stanlib sunk Sh100 million in Chase’s corporate bond.
“The fund (NSSF) has, however, indicated the likelihood of recovering
most of the investments after CBK (Central Bank of Kenya) carried out
an expression of interest and received initial bids to sell Imperial
Bank to pay off depositors, while Chase Bank was re-opened and
reportedly acquired by SBM Kenya…,” he added.