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Gold at 6 Year High @DavidInglesTV $1,382.00
Bullion for immediate delivery jumped as much as 2.5% to $1,394.11 an
ounce, the highest since September 2013, and traded at $1,381.07 by
1:44 p.m. in Singapore. Futures in New York climbed as much as 3.6% to
$1,397.70 an ounce, also the highest since 2013.
Both the US and China had seen pretty strong economic growth in the first quarter. Could it be that both sides thought they were in a stronger negotiating position?
Law & Politics
I think that happened in the US, but not in China. Remember, in China,
the GDP growth numbers tell us nothing about the economy. If Beijing
wants 7% growth, they get 7%, if they want 5%, they get 5%. That is
not real growth, it’s just economic activity. The real growth in
China, if you were to write down all non-productive investment, would
be much lower.
You mean lower than the 6,4% that were reported lately?
Yes. I think the real economic growth rate in China is already below
3%. The economy is not doing very well, and the trade war is making it
worse. But again, this has no impact on the published GDP numbers,
because they are political numbers. The irony is that the worse the
trade war gets, the higher the official GDP growth will probably be.
In order to show that China is not affected by the trade war, they
will show high growth rates. But you must understand that the
published GDP growth numbers do not measure the real performance of
China's leader, Xi Jinping, landed in North Korea to meet with Kim Jong-un. @nytimes
Law & Politics
Officially, President Xi Jinping of China is visiting North Korea this
week to strengthen “strategic communication and exchanges” between the
two countries, as he wrote on Wednesday in a front-page op-ed for a
North Korean state newspaper.
Unofficially, he is likely there to talk about — or at least send a
message to — President Trump.
Mr. Xi arrived in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, on Thursday
for a two-day state visit with Kim Jong-un, the country’s mysterious
and mercurial leader.
It is the first trip by a Chinese president to North Korea in 14
years, and only the second time a world leader has met Mr. Kim on his
For Mr. Xi, the meeting is a good way of reminding the American
president — with whom he is entangled in a trade war and is expected
to meet at the upcoming Group of 20 meeting — that China wields
valuable influence over the nuclear-capable North.
If nothing else, Mr. Xi and Mr. Kim, both masters of propaganda, can
be expected to use the international media attention to demonstrate to
Mr. Trump that they too are proficient deal makers.
They have met four previous times, including before each of Mr. Kim’s
two summit meetings with Mr. Trump. Those sessions were a reminder
that whatever engagement with the West may offer, China remains North
Korea’s largest trade partner and most important ally.
The Pyongyang visit comes as China is locked in a potentially
devastating trade war with the United States and less than two weeks
before Mr. Xi is expected to sit down with Mr. Trump at the Group of
20 meeting in Osaka, Japan.
“As for whether China is using President Xi’s state visit to the
D.P.R.K. as some kind of ‘leverage,’ I must say, people with such an
idea are just overthinking,” Lu Kang, spokesman for the Chinese
Foreign Ministry, said on Wednesday, using an acronym for the North’s
official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“By inviting Xi Jinping, Kim Jong-un is giving Xi a chance to play and
flaunt a mediator’s role on the Korean Peninsula,” Mr. Yang said. “In
return, North Korea is expecting food aid from China.”
8 SEP 17 :: "A screaming comes across the sky"
Law & Politics
Gravity’s Rainbow is a 1973 novel by Thomas Pynchon which is about the
design, production and dispatch of V-2 rockets by the German military.
In particular, it features the quest undertaken by several characters
to uncover the secret of a mysterious device named the “Schwarzgerät”
(black device), slated to be installed in a rocket with the serial
number “00000”. As the world watches PyongYang, I cannot help
wondering if Kim Jong-Un has read Pynchon which speaks of “A screaming
comes across the sky” and North Korea.
“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.’’
"Joints will be separated," Tubaigy told Mutreb. "First time I cut on the ground. If we take plastic bags and cut it into pieces, it will be finished." referred to as the "sacrificial animal" by Mutreb
Law & Politics
Khashoggi’s name was not mentioned, but rather he was referred to as
the “sacrificial animal” by Mutreb.
Although Callamard said she found no “smoking gun” incriminating the
crown prince himself, she said he had played an essential role in a
campaign of repressing dissidents and almost certainly knew that a
criminal mission targeting Khashoggi was being planned. She said there
was “credible evidence” that he was in some way responsible for
“Evidence points to the 15-person mission to execute Mr. Khashoggi
requiring significant government coordination, resources and
finances,” she wrote. “While the Saudi government claims that these
resources were put in place by Ahmed Asiri, every expert consulted
finds it inconceivable that an operation of this scale could be
implemented without the Crown Prince being aware, at a minimum, that
some sort of mission of a criminal nature, directed at Mr. Khashoggi,
was being launched.”
According to the report, 13 minutes before Khashoggi entered the
consulate on Oct. 2, two of the Saudi agents, Maher Mutreb and Salah
Tubaigy, a forensic expert, discussed dismembering the body.
“Joints will be separated,” Tubaigy told Mutreb. “First time I cut on
the ground. If we take plastic bags and cut it into pieces, it will be
finished.” Khashoggi’s name was not mentioned, but rather he was
referred to as the “sacrificial animal” by Mutreb.
The report also said that Tubaigy “expressed concerns” about what was
about to transpire, telling Mutreb: “My direct manager is not aware of
what I am doing. There is no one to protect me.”
The audio tape suggests they attempted to make Khashoggi believe he
would be kidnapped, not killed, and repatriated to Saudi Arabia.
MBS, alleged owner of Leonardo Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi which is a painting of Christ as Salvator Mundi (Latin for "Savior of the World") dated to 1500
Law & Politics
MBS, alleged owner of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi which is a
painting of Christ as Salvator Mundi (Latin for “Savior of the World”)
dated to 1500. The painting shows Jesus, in Renaissance dress, giving
a bene- diction with his right hand raised and two fingers extended,
while holding a transparent rock crystal orb in his left hand. The
rock crystal orb of course reappeared during Trump’s visit to the
Desert Kingdom. The painting is currently in the Louvre in Abu Dhabi
because the ‘’optics’’ of this $450m purchase did not sit well with
being the son and heir to the kingdom. The king is called the
custodian of the two holy mosques after all. MBS is also the proud
owner of Serene [the yacht] which he bought for 500m Euros in 2015,
while vacationing in the south of France. Bruce Reidel alleges MBS
sleeps on the Serene off Jeddah because he too lives in fear for his
Already this year, at least six governments in Africa have shut down
the internet, often with the complicity of western providers. This
month in Sudan, as soldiers from a government paramilitary force went
on a killing spree in the capital Khartoum, the internet went dark,
preventing protesters from documenting the violence on social media.
By the end of it, more than 100 people had been killed and many more
assaulted. With the flick of a switch, an opposition protest movement
that had just weeks before used social media to organise the overthrow
of Omar al-Bashir, a dictator of 30 years’ standing, was reduced to
the secret meetings and safe houses of the pre-internet age.
That is a particularly graphic example of the power of new technology
both for progressive change and for its opposite. But all over Africa,
the double-edged nature of digital technology is becoming increasingly
Take the social activists in the Democratic Republic of Congo who use
online activism to try to keep their crooked government on the
straight and narrow, but find themselves plunged into digital darkness
when poll results are being cooked up.
On the face of it, an internet shutdown in Africa seems less
noteworthy than one in Europe, China or North America, where the use
of online technology is more widespread.
Internet penetration in Africa — while rising more rapidly than
elsewhere — is still just 37 per cent, against 61 per cent in the rest
of the world.
Yet in some ways, Africans are more dependent on internet and
smartphone technologies than people elsewhere.
Nigeria has gone from 100,000 working fixed-line phones in the early
2000s to 170m mobile subscribers today. In a country with potholed,
hazardous roads, the internet is not so much an alternative highway as
the only one.
Hundreds of millions of Africans use cellular services to transfer
money to their family or to pay for goods and services. In the absence
of a universal banking system, if the mobile network goes down, the
impact can be devastating.
Similarly, in countries with heavily controlled print media, the
internet becomes the only source of reliable information — as well as
one of rumour and deception.
In a cat-and-mouse game, Tanzania’s authorities have sought to tax
bloggers out of existence by imposing exorbitant fees.
Uganda has put a daily tax on the use of platforms, such as Facebook,
Twitter and WhatsApp, to curb what the government deems “idle
More important even than the fragility of physical infrastructure is
institutional and regulatory frailty. Consumers in advanced economies
are only now waking up to the dangers posed by technology to their
privacy and freedom.
In Africa, companies are still at the stage of what Kenyan writer
Nanjala Nyabola calls “a mass data sweep” in which information about
an expanding consumer class is being busily devoured.
Even governments may be vulnerable. Technicians working at the African
Union headquarters in Addis Ababa in 2017 noticed that peak data usage
in the building occurred every night between midnight and 2am.
A report in Le Monde, vehemently denied by Beijing, said data from the
heavily bugged headquarters — a gift from the Chinese government — was
being downloaded to Shanghai every night.
Many African countries are now almost wholly reliant on Chinese
companies, including Huawei, for their digital services.
Transsion, a Shenzhen-based handset maker, sells more phones in Africa
than any other company. It has even begun manufacturing in Ethiopia.
Many Chinese companies, including ZTE and Hikvision, provide the
surveillance technology used by African governments to monitor — or
spy on — their own populations.
CloudWalk Technology, a Guangzhou start-up, last year signed a deal
with the government of Zimbabwe to provide a mass facial recognition
Zimbabwe will send data on millions of its citizens, captured by CCTV
cameras, to the Chinese company, which hopes to improve technology
that still struggles to distinguish between black faces.
Ms Nyabola, whose book Digital Democracy, Analogue Politics explores
these tensions in her native Kenya, paints a picture in which the
benefits and hazards of new technology are finely poised.
On the plus side, she says, citizens regularly tag politicians and
judges on Twitter, demanding an accountability unthinkable even a few
The contest is often evenly matched. In the run-up to the 2017
presidential elections, the electoral commission’s head of technology
was found murdered. When the all-electronic system began to spit out
results, citizens posted paper ballots online in an effort to expose
what they suspected was wholesale fraud.
In the end, the Supreme Court — a piece of kit invented in the 18th
century — took the bold decision to order a rerun of the whole
election. The incumbent won anyway.
“Using technology as a substitute for trust creates this black box,”
says Ms Nyabola. “But most of us don’t understand how these systems
are built. So what comes out is just chaos.”
Governments in Africa have a massive opportunity to use the digital
revolution to improve the lives of their citizens. Too many are using
it against them.
05-MAR-2018 :: China has unveiled a Digital Panopticon in Xinjiang
Dissent is measured and snuffed out very quickly in China. China has
unveiled a Digital Panopticon in Xinjiang where a combination of data
from video surveillance, face and license plate recognition, mobile
device locations, and official records to identify targets for
detention [CDT]. Xinjiang is surely a Precursor for how the CCCP will
manage dissent. The actions in Xinjiang are part of the regional
authorities’ ongoing “Strike-Hard” campaign, and of President Xi’s
“stability maintenance” and “enduring peace” drive in the region.
Anocratic regimes pose the greatest challenge to stability, and horizontal inequalities are likely to continue to fuel grievances. @issafrica
entirely different factors drive the current civil war in South Sudan,
election-related violence in Kenya, the ongoing farmer-herder conflict
in Nigeria’s Middle Belt, and armed conflict in the eastern Democratic
Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The drivers are multi-dimensional, distinct and do not necessarily
accumulate.18 States can be vulnerable in a single dimension at a
certain point in time, across several dimensions at the same time or,
in extreme cases, simultaneously on all fronts, as in Somalia, for
The demographic model reflects that large youth bulges with more than
40% of the adult population between 15 and 29 years are associated
with a higher risk of political instability,35 especially
lower-intensity violent conflict.
This risk is compounded ‘when opportunities for young people are
severely restricted in the forms of low access to participation in
governance, limited education, and failing economic development’.37
Low levels of GDP per capita growth suggest limited scope for improved
development opportunities. Poor GDP growth can also signal broader
Anocracies are about six times more likely than democracies to
experience a major regime change
Africa experiences the highest level of one-sided violence in the
world, both in the number of actors as well as civilians killed.98
Reported incidents of violence against civilians have been on the rise
over the past decade,
with civilians targeted by an increasing number of actors, including
states, rebel forces and militias.99 Events in Sudan, Somalia,
Burundi, Nigeria and the DRC drove this surge between 2012 and 2017.
Nigeria faces the highest demographic pressure with a probability for
political instability more than three times as high as the average for
sub-Saharan Africa. This situation is expected to persist. The DRC and
Angola are also exposed to relatively high demographic pressure.
All countries in sub-Saharan Africa except Mauritius and the
Seychelles have a current median age below 26.3 years. They therefore
remain vulnerable to political instability from demographic pressures,
including linked to ‘democratic backsliding’.
A recent report by the ISS on Central Africa highlights that the
region ‘currently has some of the longest-serving and oldest African
presidents’ and that ‘some kind of turnover (i.e. change in
leadership) is inevitable in the next 10 to 15 years’:
Governance in Ethiopia, for example, is projected to remain
problematic in the longer term and is a relatively significant risk
Gold worth billions smuggled out of Africa @Reuters
Billions of dollars’ worth of gold is being smuggled out of Africa
every year through the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East – a
gateway to markets in Europe, the United States and beyond – a Reuters
analysis has found.
Customs data shows that the UAE imported $15.1 billion worth of gold
from Africa in 2016, more than any other country and up from $1.3
billion in 2006. The total weight was 446 tonnes, in varying degrees
of purity – up from 67 tonnes in 2006.
Much of the gold was not recorded in the exports of African states.
Five trade economists interviewed by Reuters said this indicates large
amounts of gold are leaving Africa with no taxes being paid to the
states that produce them.
Reuters assessed the volume of the illicit trade by comparing total
imports into the UAE with the exports declared by African states.
Industrial mining firms in Africa told Reuters they did not send their
gold to the UAE – indicating that its gold imports from Africa come
from other, informal sources.
Informal methods of gold production, known in the industry as
“artisanal” or small-scale mining, are growing globally. They have
provided a livelihood to millions of Africans and help some make more
money than they could dream of from traditional trades.
But the methods leak chemicals into rocks, soil and rivers. And
African governments such as Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia complain that
gold is now being illegally produced and smuggled out of their
countries on a vast scale, sometimes by criminal operations, and often
at a high human and environmental cost.
Not everyone in the chain is breaking the law. Miners, some of them
working legally, typically sell the gold to middlemen. The middlemen
either fly the gold out directly or trade it across Africa’s porous
borders, obscuring its origins before couriers carry it out of the
continent, often in hand luggage.
For example, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a major gold
producer but one whose official exports amount to a fraction of its
estimated production: Most is smuggled into neighbouring Uganda and
“It is of course worrisome for us but we have very little leverage to
stop it,” said Thierry Boliki, director of the CEEC, the Congolese
government body that is meant to register, value and tax high-value
minerals like gold.
The customs data provided by governments to Comtrade, a United Nations
database, shows the UAE has been a prime destination for gold from
many African states for some years. In 2015, China – the world’s
biggest gold consumer – imported more gold from Africa than the UAE.
But during 2016, the latest year for which data is available, the UAE
imported almost double the value taken by China. With African gold
imports worth $8.5 billion that year, China came a distant second.
Switzerland, the world’s gold refining hub, came third with $7.5
Most of the gold is traded in Dubai, home to the UAE's gold industry.
The UAE reported gold imports from 46 African countries for 2016. Of
those countries, 25 did not provide Comtrade with data on their gold
exports to the UAE. But the UAE said it had imported a total of $7.4
billion worth of gold from them.
In addition, the UAE imported much more gold from most of the other 21
countries than those countries said they had exported. In all, it said
it imported gold worth $3.9 billion – about 67 tonnes – more than
those countries said they sent out.
“There is a lot of gold leaving Africa without being captured in our
records,” said Frank Mugyenyi, a senior adviser on industrial
development at the African Union who set up the organisation’s
minerals unit. “UAE is cashing in on the unregulated environment in
In other states, including the UAE, these concerns have been less of a
problem. Over the last decade, gold from Africa has become
increasingly important for Dubai. From 2006 to 2016, the share of
African gold in UAE’s reported gold imports increased from 18 percent
to nearly 50 percent, Comtrade data showed.
The UAE’s main commodity marketplace, the Dubai Multi-Commodities
Centre (DMCC), calls itself on its website “your gateway to global
trade.” Trading in gold accounts for nearly one-fifth of UAE’s GDP.
“I understand that Dubai is the destination for this gold,” his
Burkina Faso neighbour, Minister Idani, told Reuters in an interview
last year. “But since (the trade) is fraudulent, I have no details.”
Zambian President Expects to Find Buyer for Vedanta Unit by July @bpolitics
Zambia’s government expects to conclude talks with potential buyers of
Vedanta Resources Ltd.’s local copper unit within a month, President
Edgar Lungu said.
His comments preempt a hearing by Zambia’s High Court on Thursday on
the state’s bid to liquidate the asset after a dispute between the
government and the Indian company.
The stand-off has rattled investors, with yields on Zambian Eurobonds
surging to new records last month.
The government received expressions of interest for the unit, Konkola
Copper Mines, from companies based in Turkey, Russia, India, Canada
and China, Lungu said in an interview Wednesday. He didn’t identify
“The team which we have put up is interrogating all these companies to
see whether they can fit, meet our expectations,” Lungu, 62, said on
the sidelines of a conference in Maputo, Mozambique’s capital.
“I think it’s going on very well. By the end of this month, towards
the midway next month, we should wrap up in terms of talking to the
Zambia moved to liquidate Konkola after Lungu accused the company of
cheating on its taxes and lying about its expansion plans. Vedanta,
majority owned by Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal, says it’s a loyal
investor that has spent $3 billion on the operations.
Konkola, along with units of Glencore Plc and First Quantum Minerals
Ltd., is among copper miners in Zambia that have been affected by
higher mining royalties the government introduced this year, in
addition to other tax increases.
The local mining lobby group has warned the government the tax hikes
could result in Zambia’s copper output, the second-biggest in Africa,
falling by as much as 100,000 metric tons this year from a record
861,946 tons in 2018.
The government would consider revisiting the taxes if mining companies
proved the levels are too onerous, Lungu said. They are yet to do so,
“They’re always grumbling, they always grumble, but I think if they
make their case we will hear them,” Lungu said. “But for now, they’ve
not made any case to warrant us reversing our position on the tax
regime. We are not convinced.”
Congo deploys army to protect China Moly's copper mine from illegal miners
Congo’s military has deployed hundreds of soldiers to protect a major
copper and cobalt mine owned by China Molybdenum Co Ltd from illegal
miners, an army spokesman said on Wednesday.
The Tenke Fungurume mine is one of the largest in Democratic Republic
of Congo, which is Africa’s leading copper producer and the world’s
top miner of cobalt, a key component in electric car batteries.
Mining companies operating in Congo, which include Glencore, Ivanhoe
and Barrick, routinely say the presence of illegal miners on their
properties is one of their greatest challenges. As many as 10,000
diggers have been estimated to operate in and around the Tenke mine.
The army deployed several hundred troops on Tuesday to the Tenke mine,
spokesman Colonel Emmanuel Kabamba said.
“The hierarchy decided to deploy soldiers to secure the company
because the company contributes to the economy of this country,”
Kabamba told Reuters.
@StanChart Seeks Cheap African Digital Growth With @didierdrogba's Help @technology
In the Ivory Coast, Standard Chartered Plc may have found its template
for the future of banking.
Didier Drogba, the retired Ivorian soccer star, was drafted as a
“digital bank ambassador" on social media.
Fifteen months later, more than 18,000 of his compatriots have signed
up for digital-only accounts, outstripping the London-based lender’s
Ivory Coast is just one of 60 countries where StanChart operates. What
might please StanChart boss Bill Winters even more than new customers
-- in a market where it had minimal presence -- is how little it cost
to get them in a time of soaring IT costs for banks.
The project was completed in nine months, using in-house technology,
working off an existing banking license.
“Forever and a day, it’s been one of the biggest problems of the bank
-- it’s in too many countries without a lower-cost way to market,”
said Ian Gordon, who heads bank research at Investec Bank Plc.
Digital-only banking addresses that structural challenge, he said.
In the big Asian countries, 166-year-old StanChart boomed and busted
lending money to local corporates and wealthy families, with retail
branch networks in those nations often an afterthought.
Digitization is a way to change that -- and stay ahead of big tech
companies before they push into finance.
“You can’t walk away from an India, China or Indonesia, and say ‘look
-- we are so sub-optimal there is no way we are going to win,’"
Aalishaan Zaidi, StanChart’s head of digital banking, said in an
The Ivorian template was followed in Uganda, where the digital bank
led to an eight-fold increase in new account openings, and in
Tanzania, where more new customers have signed up so far this year
than in the whole of 2018.
"If we don’t disrupt ourselves, somebody else will do it to us," said Zaidi.
Still, analysts at Morgan Stanley rate StanChart a technology laggard,
comparing the bank unfavorably to competitors like Singapore’s DBS
Group Holdings Ltd. Winters, who has been chief executive officer for
four years, has taken that kind of critique to heart, and knows the
bigger markets are a problem.
Speaking to investors at a conference in April, Winters singled out
the bank’s “very small” market share in India, despite years of
opening traditional branches instead of going digital. Winters vowed
to pursue “aggressive digitization.”
“Why have you been beating your head against a wall trying to build a
mass-market business, competing with banks that have the structural
advantage?” Winters said of his firm. “I can’t really answer that
Winters’s bank doesn’t have the firepower to match the $15
billion-plus that HSBC Holdings Plc will spend on IT in coming years.
To stay nimble, StanChart is exploring partnerships with tech firms
like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. StanChart and the Chinese internet
giant’s Ant Financial Services signed a pact in 2017 that led to
initiatives like a low-cost platform for Filipino workers to send
remittances home from Hong Kong.
In Hong Kong, StanChart won a license for the territory’s first
virtual bank -- hoping to tap the millions of customers of venture
partners Ctrip.com International Ltd., a Chinese travel agency, and
Hong Kong Telecommunications Ltd.
Back in London, Drogba is reported to be mulling a return to Chelsea
Football Club, and Winters, whose bank sponsors northern rivals
Liverpool, must reach an ambitious profitability target with help from
countries like Ivory Coast.
African and Middle East markets account for just a fifth of
StanChart’s revenue, but they offer the CEO some of his best
Kenya will open a cut flower distribution centre in China in a new strategy aimed at creating a direct sales link and grow its exports to the Asian market.
Industry and Trade Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said the centre based
in the Southern China province of Hunan will be run in partnership
with a Chinese firm, Funfree International Trade Company.
He said the State-run Export Promotion Council (EPC) and the Kenya
Flower Council, the umbrella body for large-scale flower producers,
will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese next week.
The deal will be inked on the sidelines of a two-day First China
Africa Economic and Trade Forum from June 27 (next Thursday) in
Changsha City in Hunan Province.
The proposed distribution centre will see cut flower producers airlift
produce to Hunan as opposed to Kenyan flowers largely accessing
Chinese markets through an auction in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
“This will be a game changer as Hunan wants to be a global trading
centre for flowers,” Mr Munya told reporters in Nairobi.