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Monday 09th of September 2019
 
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Africa

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Macro Thoughts

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Global bond bull run has reached historic levels @FT
Africa


The global bull run that started in 1985 is now one of the most
intense in the debt market’s 700-year history, comparable with a
deleveraging and economic growth spurt that followed the Napoleonic
wars.
Despite longstanding predictions of the end of the bond bull market
that started after former Federal Reserve chair Paul Volcker quashed
inflation in the 1980s, government debt has kept rallying this year,
taking the average annual fall in yields to 17.4 basis points (0.174
percentage points) over the past 34 years.
That puts it on the cusp of surpassing the 1873-1909 bull run in
length, and makes it the strongest decline in long-term interest rates
since 1817-1854, when bond yields declined by 22 bps a year, according
to research by Paul Schmelzing, a visiting scholar at the Bank of
England.
The only other stronger periods of declines since Italian city-states
first began issuing bonds in the 12th century were under the reign of
Louis XIV, Venice’s 14th and 15th century heyday and during the
stability that followed the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis in 1559. That
ended the European power struggle between Habsburg Spain and France
over control of Italy.
Although more than $15tn of bonds now trade with negative yields, the
fact that the world has seen comparable, if rare, falls in bond
yields, and the long-term nature of the decline since the 12th
century, casts doubts over suggestions that the global economy is
experiencing something unprecedented, according to Mr Schmelzing.
“The ‘secular stagnation’ theory is highly questionable against this
evidence: the fall in real rates has in fact been continuous for
centuries, and recent years merely witnessed a trend-return,” he said.
The data on global, inflation-adjusted bond yields have been collected
by Mr Schmelzing for his upcoming PhD thesis at Harvard.
The data were first published by the Bank of England in January 2017
and updated for the Financial Times to include the bond market’s rally
since then.

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24-JUN-2019 :: We are in "nose-bleed" territory. This is "Voodoo Economics"
Africa


We are in ‘’nose-bleed’’ territory. This is ‘’Voodoo Economics’’ and
just because we have not reached the point when the curtain was lifted
in the Wizard of Oz and the Wizard revealed to be ‘’an ordinary conman
from Omaha who has been using elaborate magic tricks and props to make
himself seem “great and powerful”’’ should not lull us into a false
sense of security.

Home Thoughts

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"I'm a streetwalking cheetah with a heart full of napalm" @thetimes
Africa


As you would hope on meeting him for the first time, Iggy Pop is naked
from the waist up. His 72-year-old torso still has a sinewy
muscularity and his trousers are so low they seem vaguely obscene. His
silvery blond mane of hair is shoulder-length and dead straight, and a
wide, boyish grin breaks out whenever something amuses him — and turns
into a snarl when it doesn’t. The man who pre-dated punk by a decade
as leader of Detroit garage legends the Stooges, who may well have
invented stage-diving, and who came up with the immortal line “I’m a
streetwalking cheetah with a heart full of napalm” (from Search and
Destroy) under a tree in Kensington Gardens in 1972 while smoking
Chinese heroin and imagining himself as a Vietnam vet, looks like the
living embodiment of rock’n’roll. And rock’n’roll has proved a harsh
mistress.

“It is common knowledge that I’ve been living on one leg for a while,”
says Pop, is his unmistakeable growl. He does indeed have one leg much
shorter than the other and walks with a rolling, tilting gait. “I
can’t stage-dive now because everything is held together with safety
pins. There may be a time when I can’t do rock’n’roll gigs any more,
which will kill me, but then I came up with some pretty bad
osteoarthritis 30 years ago and thought, ‘What the f*** am I gonna do?
I can’t even walk across the room.’ I met this tough little Korean guy
who taught me t’ai chi and qigong and after that I didn’t want to
smoke dope, I didn’t want to smoke cigarettes, and I could keep
touring. Now I drink like a Frenchman, good wine with dinner at night.
I go to bed early. And I live in Miami, which helps.”

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"In the car" 2015 @NewYorker Elinor Carucci
Africa


The subject matter of most photos in Carucci’s series “Midlife” is
unremarkable: a smudge of lipstick; the knuckles of a hand; a gray
hair; a ripple of cellulite. What is unusual is the focus: the lips,
photographed so closely that the hair on the upper lip appears wiry
and thick. The knuckles, wrinkled and mountainous. The gray hair, lit
against a black background, spiralling upward to an impossible height.
The rippled skin, tissuey and fragile. To treat signs of impending
middle age with such gravity and drama is both absurd and—it seems to
me—deeply honest about the kind of intense, exhausting self-monitoring
that can feel like an inescapable part of owning a female body. I love
the way that these pictures literalize a familiar sensation—the
impulse to magnify a tiny, errant part of yourself until it is wildly
out of proportion—and, in doing so, make that impulse seem not shallow
or vain but simply human.

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Before Man congested scene around a watering hole in Savute, Botswana @David_Yarrow
Africa


On #NationalWildlifeDay today, I wanted to share a new image. This is
the right title for this congested scene around a watering hole in
Savute, Botswana. I needed a vista that could offer depth and the bank
here was perfect.

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Mr @BorisJohnson wrote to party members on Friday evening, saying: "They just passed a law that would force me to beg Brussels for an extension to the Brexit deadline. This is something I will never do." @LBC
Law & Politics


Responding to a question about whether he would follow the law, he
said: "I will not. I don't want a delay."
Mr Johnson does risk being taken to court if he fails to carry out the
will of parliament, and could be held in contempt or jailed, if he
refuses.
Former Conservative Party chairman Iain Duncan Smith told the
Telegraph: "This is about parliament versus the people. Boris Johnson
is on the side of the people, who voted to leave the EU.
"The people are sovereign because they elect parliament. But
parliament wants to stop the will of the people."

Conclusions

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How the @CIA Mossad and "the Epstein Network" are Exploiting Mass Shootings to Create an Orwellian Nightmare by @_whitneywebb @MintPressNews
Law & Politics


Following the arrest and subsequent death in prison of alleged child
sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, a little-known Israeli tech company
began to receive increased publicity, but for all the wrong reasons.
Not long after Epstein’s arrest, and his relationships and finances
came under scrutiny, it was revealed that the Israeli company
Carbyne911 had received substantial funding from Jeffrey Epstein as
well as Epstein’s close associate and former Prime Minister of Israel
Ehud Barak, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist and prominent Trump
backer Peter Thiel.  Carbyne911, or simply Carbyne, develops
call-handling and identification capabilities for emergency response
services in countries around the world, including the United States,
where it has already been implemented in several U.S. counties and has
partnered with major U.S. tech companies like Google. It specifically
markets its product as a way of mitigating mass shootings in the
United States without having to change existing U.S. gun laws. Yet,
Carbyne is no ordinary tech company, as it is deeply connected to the
elite Israeli military intelligence division, Unit 8200, whose
“alumni” often go on to create tech companies — Carbyne among them —
that frequently maintain their ties to Israeli intelligence and,
according to Israeli media reports and former employees, often “blur
the line” between their service to Israel’s defense/intelligence
apparatus and their commercial activity. As this report will reveal,
Carbyne is but one of several Israeli tech companies marketing
themselves as a technological solution to mass shootings that has
direct ties to Israeli intelligence agencies.  In each case, these
companies’ products are built in such a way that they can easily be
used to illegally surveil the governments, institutions and civilians
that use them, a troubling fact given Unit 8200’s documented prowess
in surveillance as a means of obtaining blackmail and Israel’s history
of using tech companies to aggressively spy on the U.S. government.
This is further compounded by the fact that Unit 8200-linked tech
companies have previously received U.S. government contracts to place
“backdoors” into the U.S.’ entire telecommunications system as well as
into the popular products of major American tech companies including
Google, Microsoft and Facebook, many of whose key managers and
executives are now former Unit 8200 officers.  Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu has made it no secret that placing Unit 8200
members in top positions in multinational tech companies is a
“deliberate policy” meant to ensure Israel’s role as the dominant
global “cyber power”, while also combating non-violent boycott
movements targeting Israel’s violations of international law and
stifling the United Nations’ criticisms of Israeli government policy
and military operations abroad. As Jeffrey Epstein’s links to
intelligence in both the United States and Israel — the subject of a
recent four-part series exclusive to MintPress — began to be revealed
in full, his financing of Carbyne came under scrutiny, particularly
for the company’s deep ties to Israeli intelligence as well as to
certain Americans with known connections to U.S. intelligence. Ehud
Barak’s own role as both financier and chairman of Carbyne has also
added to that concern, given his long history of involvement in covert
intelligence operations for Israel and his long-standing ties to
Israeli military intelligence. Another funder of Carbyne, Peter Thiel,
has his own company that, like Carbyne, is set to profit from the
Trump administration’s proposed hi-tech solutions to mass shootings.
Indeed, after the recent shooting in El Paso, Texas, President Trump —
who received political donations from and has been advised by Thiel
following his election — asked tech companies to “detect mass shooters
before they strike,” a service already perfected by Thiel’s company
Palantir, which has developed “pre-crime software” already in use
throughout the country. Palantir is also a contractor for the U.S.
intelligence community and also has a branch based in Israel. Perhaps
most disturbing of all, whatever technological solution is adopted by
the Trump administration, it is set to use a controversial database
first developed as part of a secretive U.S. government program that
involved notorious Iran-Contra figures like Oliver North as a means of
tracking and flagging potential American dissidents for increased
surveillance and detention in the event of a vaguely defined “national
emergency.”  As this report will reveal, this database — often
referred to as “Main Core” — was created with the involvement of
Israeli intelligence and Israel remained involved years after it was
developed, and potentially to the present. It was also used by at
least one former CIA official on President Reagan’s National Security
Council to blackmail members of Congress, Congressional staffers and
journalists, among others. Given recent reports on the Trump
administration’s plan to create a new government agency to use
“advanced technology” to identify “neurobehavioral signs” of “someone
headed toward a violent explosive act” using data collected by
consumer electronic devices, the picture painted by the technology
currently being promoted and implemented under the guise of “keeping
Americans safe” is deeply Orwellian. In fact, it points directly to
the genesis of a far-reaching surveillance state far more extensive
than anything yet seen in American history and it is being jointly
developed by individuals connected to both American and Israeli
intelligence.

Carbyne911, which will be referred to simply as Carbyne in this
report, is an Israeli tech-startup that promises to revolutionize how
calls are handled by emergency service providers, as well as by
governments, corporations and educational institutions. Not long after
it was founded in 2014 by veterans of Israeli military intelligence,
Carbyne began to be specifically marketed as a solution to mass
shootings in the United States that goes “beyond the gun debate” and
improves the “intelligence that armed emergency responders receive
before entering an armed shooter situation” by providing
video-streaming and acoustic input from civilian smartphones and other
devices connected to the Carbyne network. Prior to Jeffrey Epstein’s
arrest in July, Carbyne had been receiving high praise from U.S. and
Israeli media, with Fox News hailing the company’s services as the
answer to the U.S.’ “aging 911 systems” and the Jerusalem Post writing
that the company’s platform offers “hi-tech protection to social
workers and school principals.” Other reports claimed that Carbyne’s
services result in “a 65% reduction in time-to-dispatch.”  Carbyne’s
call-handling/crisis management platform has already been implemented
in several U.S. counties and the company has offices not only in the
U.S. but also in Mexico, Ukraine and Israel. Carbyne’s expansion to
more emergency service provider networks in the U.S. is likely, given
that federal legislation seeks to offer grants to upgrade 911 call
centers throughout the country with the very technology of which
Carbyne is the leading provider. One of the main lobby groups
promoting this legislation, the National Emergency Number Association
(NENA), has a “strong relationship” with Carbyne, according to
Carbyne’s website. In addition, Carbyne has also begun marketing its
platform for non-emergency calls to governments, educational
institutions and corporations. Yet, what seemed like the inevitability
of Carbyne’s widespread adoption in the U.S. hit a snag following the
recent arrest and subsequent death of sex trafficker and pedophile
Jeffrey Epstein, who exploited underage girls for the purpose of
obtaining “blackmail” on the rich and poweful, an operation that had
clear ties to intelligence. Epstein, after his first arrest and light
sentence for soliciting sex from a minor in 2007, was tapped by former
Israeli Prime Minister and former head of Israeli military
intelligence Ehud Barak, to become a key financial backer of Carbyne.
As a result of increased scrutiny of Epstein’s business activities and
his ties to Israel, particularly to Barak, Epstein’s connection to
Carbyne was revealed and extensively reported on by the independent
media outlet Narativ, whose exposé on Carbyne revealed not only some
of the key intelligence connections of the start-up company but also
how the architecture of Carbyne’s product itself raises “serious
privacy concerns.” MintPress detailed many of Carbyne’s main
intelligence connections in Part III of the investigative series
“Inside the Jeffrey Epstein Scandal: Too Big to Fail.” In addition to
Barak — former Israeli prime minister and former head of Israeli
military intelligence — serving as Carbyne’s chairman and a key
financer, the company’s executive team are all former members of
Israeli intelligence, including the elite military intelligence unit,
Unit 8200, which is often compared to the U.S. National Security
Agency (NSA).  Carbyne’s current CEO, Amir Elichai, served in Unit
8200 and tapped former Unit 8200 commander and current board member of
AIPAC Pinchas Buchris to serve as the company’s director and on its
board. In addition to Elichai, another Carbyne co-founder, Lital
Leshem, also served in Unit 8200 and later worked for Israeli private
spy company Black Cube. The only Carbyne co-founder that didn’t serve
in Unit 8200 is Alex Dizengof, who previously worked for Israel’s
Prime Minister’s office. As MintPress noted in a past report detailing
Israeli military intelligence’s deep ties to American tech giant
Microsoft, Unit 8200 is an elite unit of the Israeli Intelligence
corps that is part of the IDF’s Directorate of Military Intelligence
and is involved mainly in signal intelligence (i.e., surveillance),
cyberwarfare and code decryption. It is frequently described as the
Israeli equivalent of the NSA and Peter Roberts, senior research
fellow at Britain’s Royal United Services Institute, characterized the
unit in an interview with the Financial Times as “probably the
foremost technical intelligence agency in the world and stand[ing] on
a par with the NSA in everything except scale.” Notably, the NSA and
Unit 8200 have collaborated on numerous projects, most infamously on
the Stuxnet virus as well as the Duqu malware. In addition, the NSA is
known to work with veterans of Unit 8200 in the private sector, such
as when the NSA hired two Israeli companies, to create backdoors into
all the major U.S. telecommunications systems and major tech
companies, including Facebook, Microsoft and Google. Both of those
companies, Verint and Narus, have top executives with ties to Israeli
intelligence and one of those companies, Verint (formerly Comverse
Infosys), has a history of aggressively spying on U.S. government
facilities. Unit 8200 is also known for spying on civilians in the
occupied Palestinian territories for “coercion purposes” — i.e.,
gathering info for blackmail — and also for spying on
Palestinian-Americans via an intelligence-sharing agreement with the
NSA. Unlike many other Unit 8200-linked start-ups, Carbyne also boasts
several tie-ins to the Trump administration, including Palantir
founder and Trump ally Peter Thiel — another investor in Carbyne. In
addition, Carbyne’s board of advisers includes former Palantir
employee Trae Stephens, who was a member of the Trump transition team,
as well as former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff.
Trump donor and New York real-estate developer Eliot Tawill is also on
Carbyne’s board, alongside Ehud Barak and Pinchas Buchris.
Yet, privacy concerns with Carbyne go beyond the company’s ties to
Israeli intelligence and U.S. intelligence contractors like Peter
Thiel.

For instance, Carbyne’s smartphone app extracts the following
information from the phones on which it is installed:
Device location, video live-streamed from the smartphone to the call
center, text messages in a two-way chat window, any data from a user’s
phone if they have the Carbyne app and ESInet, and any information
that comes over a data link, which Carbyne opens in case the caller’s
voice link drops out.” (emphasis added) According to Carbyne’s
website, this same information can also be obtained from any
smartphone, even if it does not have Carbyne’s app installed, if that
phone calls a 911 call center that uses Carbyne or merely any other
number connected to Carbyne’s network. Carbyne is a Next-Generation
9-11 (NG911) platform and the explicit goal of NG911 is for all 911
systems nationwide to become interconnected. Thus, even if Carbyne is
not used by all 911 call centers using an NG911 platform, Carbyne will
ostensibly have access to the data used by all emergency service
providers and devices connected to those networks. This guiding
principle of NG911 also makes it likely that one platform will be
favored at the federal level to foster such interconnectivity and,
given that it has already been adopted by several counties and has
ties to the Trump administration, Carbyne is the logical choice.
Another cause for concern is how other countries have used platforms
like Carbyne, which were first marketed as emergency response tools,
for the purpose of mass surveillance. Narativ noted the following in
its investigation of Carbyne:

In May, Human Rights Watch revealed Chinese authorities use a platform
not unlike Carbyne to illegally surveil Uyghurs. China’s Integrated
Joint Operations Platform brings in a much bigger data-set and sources
of video, which includes an app on people’s phones. Like Carbyne, the
platform was designed to report emergencies. Chinese authorities have
turned it into a tool of mass surveillance. Human Rights Watch
reverse-engineered the app. The group discovered the app automatically
profiles a user under 36 “person types” including “followers of Six
Lines” which is the term used to identify Uyghurs. Another term refers
to “Hajj,” the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. The app monitors
every aspect of a user’s life, including personal conversations [and]
power usage, and tracks a user’s movement.” Such technology is
currently used by Israeli military intelligence and Israel’s domestic
intelligence agency Shin Bet to justify “pre-crime” detentions of
Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. As will be noted in greater
detail later in this report, Palestinians’ comments on social media
are tracked by artificial intelligence algorithms that flag them for
indefinite detention if they write social media posts that contain
“tripwire” phrases such as “the sword of Allah.” Carbyne’s platform
has its own “pre-crime” elements, such as it’s c-Records component,
which stores and analyzes information on past calls and events that
pass through its network. This information “enables decision makers to
accurately analyze the past and present behavior of their callers,
react accordingly, and in time predict future patterns.” (emphasis
added) Concerns have recently been raised that “pre-crime” technology
may soon become more widely adopted in the U.S., after President Trump
stated that one of his planned solutions to mass shootings in the wake
of the recent tragedy in El Paso was for big tech companies to detect
potential shooters before they strike.

Though many of the individuals involved in funding or managing Carbyne
have proven ties to intelligence, a closer look into several of these
players reveals even deeper connections to both Israeli and U.S.
intelligence. One of Carbyne’s clearest connections to Israeli
intelligence is through its chairman and one of its funders, Ehud
Barak. Though Barak is best known for being a former prime minister of
Israel, he is also a former minister of defense and the former head of
Israeli military intelligence. He oversaw Unit 8200’s operations, as
well as other units of Israeli military intelligence, in all three of
those positions. For most of his military and later political career,
Barak has been closely associated with covert operations.  Prior to
the public scrutiny of Barak’s relationship to Jeffrey Epstein,
following the latter’s arrest this past July and subsequent death,
Barak had come under fire for his ties to disgraced film mogul Harvey
Weinstein. Indeed, it was Ehud Barak who put Weinstein in contact with
the Israeli private intelligence outfit Black Cube, which employs
former Mossad agents and Israeli military intelligence operatives, as
Weinstein sought to intimidate the women who had accused him of sexual
assault and sexual harassment. Former Mossad director Meir Dagan led
Black Cube’s board until his death in 2016 and Carbyne co-founder
Lital Leshem is Black Cube’s former director of marketing. After Barak
put him in contact with Black Cube’s leadership, Weinstein, according
to The New Yorker, used the private spy firm to “‘target,’ or collect
information on, dozens of individuals, and compile psychological
profiles that sometimes focused on their personal or sexual
histories.” In addition, The New Yorker noted that “Weinstein
monitored the progress of the investigations personally” and “also
enlisted former employees from his film enterprises to join in the
effort, collecting names and placing calls that, according to some
sources who received them, felt intimidating.” Yet, more recently, it
has been Barak’s close relationship to Epstein that has raised
eyebrows and opened him up to political attacks from his rivals.
Epstein and Barak were first introduced by former Israeli Prime
Minister Shimon Peres in 2002, a time when Epstein’s pedophile
blackmail and sex trafficking operation was in full swing.
Barak was a frequent visitor to Epstein’s residences in New York, so
often that The Daily Beast reported that numerous residents of an
apartment building linked to Epstein “had seen Barak in the building
multiple times over the last few years, and nearly half a dozen more
described running into his security detail,” adding that “the building
is majority-owned by Epstein’s younger brother, Mark, and has been
tied to the financier’s alleged New York trafficking ring.”
Specifically, several apartments in the building were “being used to
house underage girls from South America, Europe and the former Soviet
Union,” according to a former bookkeeper employed by one of Epstein’s
main procurers of underage girls, Jean Luc Brunel. Barak is also known
to have spent the night at one of Epstein’s residences at least once,
was photographed leaving Epstein’s residence as recently as 2016, and
has admitted to visiting Epstein’s island, which has sported nicknames
including “Pedo Island,” “Lolita Island” and “Orgy Island.” In 2004,
Barak received $2.5 million from Leslie Wexner’s Wexner Foundation,
where Epstein was a trustee as well as one of the foundation’s top
donors, officially for unspecified “consulting services” and
“research” on the foundation’s behalf. In 2015, Barak formed a limited
partnership company in Israel for the explicit purpose of investing in
Carbyne (then known as Reporty) and invested millions of dollars in
the company, quickly becoming a major shareholder and subsequently the
company’s public face and the chairman of its board. At least $1
million of the money invested in this Barak-created company that was
later used to invest in Carbyne came from the Southern Trust Company,
which was owned by Jeffrey Epstein. In July, Bloomberg reported that
Epstein’s Southern Trust Company is identified in U.S. Virgin Islands
filings as “a DNA database and data mining” company. Given Carbyne’s
clear potential for data-mining and civilian profiling, Epstein’s
investment in Carbyne using this specific company suggests that
Carbyne’s investors have long been aware of this little advertised
aspect of Carbyne’s product.

In a statement to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Barak asserted:

I saw the business opportunity and registered a partnership in my
control in Israel. A small number of people I know invest in it…Since
these are private investments, it wouldn’t be proper or right for me
to expose the investors’ details.” However, Barak later admitted that
Epstein had been one of the investors. MintPress’ recent series on the
Jeffrey Epstein scandal noted in detail Epstein’s ties to CIA/Mossad
intelligence assets, such as Adnan Khashoggi; CIA front companies,
such as Southern Air Transport; and organized crime, through his close
association with Leslie Wexner. In addition, Epstein’s long-time
“girlfriend” and alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell, has family links to
Israeli intelligence through her father, Robert Maxwell. While it
appears that Epstein may have been working for more than one
intelligence agency, Zev Shalev, former executive producer for CBS
News and journalist at Narativ, recently stated that he had
independently confirmed with two unconnected sources “closely
connected to the Epstein story and in a position to know” that Epstein
had “worked for Israeli military intelligence.” Notably, Epstein, who
was known for his interest in obtaining blackmail through the sexual
abuse of the underaged girls he exploited, also claimed to have
“damaging information” on prominent figures in Silicon Valley. In a
conversation last year with New York Times reporter James Stewart,
Epstein claimed to have “potentially damaging or embarrassing”
information on Silicon Valley’s elite and told Stewart that these top
figures in the American tech industry “were hedonistic and regular
users of recreational drugs.” Epstein also told Stewart that he had
“witnessed prominent tech figures taking drugs and arranging for sex”
and claimed to know “details about their supposed sexual
proclivities.”

In the lead-up to his recent arrest, Jeffrey Epstein appeared to have
been attempting to rebrand as a “tech investor,” as he had done
interviews with several journalists including Stewart about technology
investing in the months before he was hit with federal sex trafficking
charges.  Jessica Lessin, editor-in-chief of The Information, told
Business Insider that a journalist working for The Information had
interviewed Epstein a month before his recent arrest because “he was
believed to be an investor in venture capital funds.” However, Lessin
claimed that the interview was not “newsworthy” and said the site had
no plans to publish its contents. Business Insider claimed that the
way the interviews with Epstein had been arranged “suggests that
someone in Silicon Valley may have been trying to help Epstein connect
with reporters.” Though it is unknown exactly which Silicon Valley
figures were most connected to Epstein and which tech executives were
potentially being blackmailed by Epstein, it is known that Epstein
associated with several prominent tech executives, including Google
co-founder Sergey Brin, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, Tesla CEO
Elon Musk, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, and LinkedIn co-founder
Reid Hoffman.  Last year, Epstein claimed to be advising Tesla and
Elon Musk, who had been previously photographed with Epstein’s alleged
madam Ghislaine Maxwell. A few years ago, Epstein also attended a
dinner hosted by LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, where Musk had allegedly
introduced Epstein to Mark Zuckerberg. Google’s Sergey Brin is known
to have attended a dinner hosted by Epstein at his New York residence
where Donald Trump was also in attendance. These associations suggest
that the person in Silicon Valley who was trying to boost Epstein’s
image as a tech investor before his arrest may have been Peter Thiel,
whose Founders Fund had also invested in Carbyne. Thiel was an early
investor in Facebook and is still on its board, connecting him to
Zuckerberg; he is also a funder of Elon Musk’s SpaceX and a former
colleague of Musk’s through PayPal. In addition, Thiel has ties to
Reid Hoffman and both Thiel and Hoffman are prominent backers of
Facebook. It is unknown whether Epstein’s “damaging information” and
apparent blackmail on notable individuals in the American technology
industry were used to advance the objectives of Carbyne, which
recently partnered with tech giants Google and Cisco Systems — and,
more broadly, the expansion of Israeli intelligence-linked tech
companies into the American tech sector, particularly through the
acquisition of Israeli tech start-ups linked to Unit 8200 by major
U.S. tech companies.  The latter seems increasingly likely given that
the father of Ghislaine Maxwell — one of Epstein’s chief
co-conspirators in his intelligence-linked sexual blackmail operation
involving minors — was a Mossad operative who helped sell software
that had been bugged by Israeli intelligence to government agencies
and sensitive facilities around the world, including in the United
States. As will be noted later in this report, Israel’s Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu — to whom all of Israel’s intelligence agencies
answer by virtue of his position — has stated on more than one
occasion that the acquisition of Israeli intelligence-linked start-ups
by foreign tech giants, especially in Silicon Valley, is a current and
“deliberate policy” of the state of Israel. While Epstein and Barak
are the two financiers of Carbyne whose ties to intelligence are
clearest, another funder of Carbyne, Peter Thiel, has ties to U.S.
intelligence and a history of investing in other companies founded by
former members of Unit 8200. Thiel co-founded and still owns a
controlling stake in the company Palantir, which was initially funded
with a $2 million investment from the CIA’s venture capital fund
In-Q-Tel and quickly thereafter became a contractor for the CIA.
After the success of its contract with the CIA, Palantir became a
contractor for a variety of federal agencies, including the FBI, the
Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Security Agency (NSA),
the Department of Homeland Security(DHS) and the military’s Special
Operations Command, among others. Last year, it won a contract to
create a new battlefield intelligence system for the U.S. Army.
Palantir is also in demand for its “pre-crime technology,” which has
been used by several U.S. police departments. According to the
Guardian, “Palantir tracks everyone from potential terrorist suspects
to corporate fraudsters, child traffickers and what they refer to as
‘subversives’… it is all done using prediction.” Thiel has gained
attention in recent years for his support of President Trump and for
becoming an adviser to Trump following the 2016 election, when he was
“a major force in the transition,” according to Politico, and “helped
fill positions in the Trump administration with former staff.” One of
those former staffers was Trae Stephens, who is also on Carbyne’s
board of advisers. Thiel also has business ties to Trump’s son-in-law
and influential adviser, Jared Kushner, as well as to Kushner’s
brother Josh. A senior Trump campaign aide told Politico in 2017 that
“Thiel is immensely powerful within the administration through his
connection to Jared.”

Thiel has also backed some prominent Israeli tech start-ups connected
to Unit 8200, such as BillGuard, which Thiel funded along with former
Google CEO Eric Schmidt and other investors. BillGuard was founded by
Raphael Ouzan, a former officer in Unit 8200, who serves on the board
of directors of Start-Up Nation Central (SUNC) alongside
neoconservative American hedge fund manager Paul Singer,
neoconservative political operative and adviser Dan Senor, and Terry
Kassel, who works for Singer at his hedge fund, Elliott Management.
SUNC is an organization founded by Paul Singer, who has donated
heavily to both President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Since it was founded in 2012, SUNC has sought to integrate Unit
8200-connected Israeli tech start-ups into foreign companies,
primarily American companies, and has helped oversee the shift of
thousands of high-paying tech jobs from the U.S. to Israel.  Another
Carbyne-connected individual worth noting is the former head of the
Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, who serves on
Carbyne’s board of advisers. In addition to Chertoff’s ties to DHS,
Chertoff’s company, The Chertoff Group, employees several prominent
former members of the U.S. intelligence community as principals,
including Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and former
director of the NSA; and Charles Allen, former assistant director of
Central Intelligence for Collection at the CIA, who worked at the
agency for over 40 years. The Chertoff Group has a long-standing and
lucrative contract with the company OSI Systems, which produces
full-body scanners and markets itself as a solution to mass shootings
and crisis events, not unlike Carbyne. While Chertoff’s company was
advising OSI Systems, Chertoff went on a media blitz to promote the
widespread use of the machines produced by OSI Systems and even called
on Congress to “fund a large-scale deployment of next-generation
systems.” Chertoff did not disclose his conflict of interest while
publicly promoting OSI’s full-body scanners. Some have also alleged
that Chertoff’s mother, Livia Eisen, had links to Israeli
intelligence. According to her 1998 obituary, cited by both
researcher/author Christopher Bollyn and journalist Jonathan Cook,
Eisen participated in the Mossad operation code-named “Magic Carpet”
while working for Israel’s El Al Airlines. Both Bollyn and Cook have
suggested that Eisen’s participation in this covert Israeli
intelligence operation strongly indicates that she had ties to the
Mossad. Beyond its troubling connections to Silicon Valley oligarchs,
Israeli military intelligence and the U.S.-military industrial
complex, Carbyne’s recent partnerships with two specific technology
companies — Google and Cisco Systems — raise even more red flags.

Carbyne announced its partnership with Cisco Systems this past April,
with the latter announcing that it would begin “aligning its unified
call manager with Carbyne’s call-handling platform, allowing emergency
call centers to collect data from both 911 callers and nearby
government-owned IoT [Internet of Things] devices.” A report on the
partnership published by Government Technology magazine stated that
“Carbyne’s platform will be integrated into Cisco Kinetic for Cities,
an IoT data platform that shares data across community infrastructure,
smart city solutions, applications and connected devices.” The report
also noted that “Carbyne will also be the only 911 solution in the
Cisco Marketplace.” As part of the partnership, Carbyne’s President of
North American Operations Paul Tatro told Government Technology that
the Carbyne platform would combine the data it obtains from
smartphones and other Carbyne-connected devices with “what’s available
through nearby Cisco-connected road cameras, roadside sensors, smart
streetlamps, smart parking meters or other devices.” Tatro further
asserted that “Carbyne can also analyze data that’s being collected by
Cisco IoT devices … and alert 911 automatically, without any person
making a phone call, if there appears to be a worthy problem,” and
expressed his view that soon most emergency calls will not be made by
human beings but “by smart cars, telematics or other smart city
devices.” A few months after partnering with Cisco Systems, Carbyne
announced its partnership with Google on July 10, just three days
after Carbyne funder Jeffrey Epstein was arrested in New York on
federal sex trafficking charges. Carbyne’s press release of the
partnership described how the company and Google would be teaming up
in Mexico “to offer advanced mobile location to emergency
communications centers (ECCs) throughout Mexico” following the
conclusion of a successful four-week pilot program between Carbyne and
Google in the Central American nation. Carbyne will provide Google’s
Android ELS (Emergency Location Service) in real time from emergency
calls made on AndroidTM devices. Deployment for any ECC in the country
won’t require any integration, with Carbyne providing numerous options
for connection to their secure ELS Gateway once an ECC is approved.
The Carbyne automated platform, requiring no human interaction, has
the potential to save thousands of lives each year throughout Mexico.”
The reason Carybne’s partnerships with Cisco Systems and Google are
significant lies in the role that Cisco and former Google CEO Eric
Schmidt have played in the creation of a controversial “incubator” for
Israeli tech start-ups with deep ties to Israeli military
intelligence, American neoconservative donor Paul Singer, and the
U.S.’ National Security Agency (NSA).  This company, called Team8, is
an Israeli company-creation platform whose CEO and co-founder is Nadav
Zafrir, former commander of Unit 8200. Two of the company’s other
three co-founders are also “alumni” of Unit 8200. Among Team8’s top
investors is Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, who also joined Peter
Thiel in funding the Unit 8200-linked BillGuard, as well as major tech
companies including Cisco Systems and Microsoft. Last year, Team8
controversially hired the former head of the NSA and U.S. Cyber
Command, Retired Admiral Mike Rogers, and Zafrir stated that his
interest in hiring Rogers was that Rogers would be “instrumental in
helping strategize” Team8’s expansion in the United States. Jake
Williams, a veteran of NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) hacking
unit, told CyberScoop: Rogers is not being brought into this role
because of his technical experience. …It’s purely because of his
knowledge of classified operations and his ability to influence many
in the U.S. government and private-sector contractors.” Team8 has also
been heavily promoted by Start-Up Nation Central (SUNC). SUNC
prominently features Team8 and Zafrir on the cybersecurity section of
its website and also sponsored a talk by Zafrir and an Israeli
government economist at the World Economic Forum, often referred to as
“Davos,” that was attended personally by Paul Singer. SUNC itself has
deep ties to Israeli military intelligence, with former Unit 8200
officer Raphael Ouzan serving on its board of directors. Another
example of SUNC-Unit 8200 ties can be seen with Inbal Arieli, who
served as SUNC’s Vice President of Strategic Partnerships from 2014 to
2017 and continues to serve as a senior adviser to the organization.
Arieli, a former lieutenant in Unit 8200, is the founder and head of
the 8200 Entrepreneurship and Innovation Support Program (EISP), which
was the first start-up accelerator in Israel aimed at harnessing “the
vast network and entrepreneurial DNA of [Unit] 8200 alumni” and is
currently one of the top company accelerators in Israel, alongside
Team8. Arieli was the top executive at 8200 EISP while working at SUNC
and several other top SUNC staffers are also connected to Israeli
military intelligence. Thus, Google and Cisco’s connections to Team8
suggests that their partnerships with another Israeli military
intelligence-connected firm like Carbyne is a deepening of those two
companies’ links to the growing bi-national security state that is
uniting key players in the U.S. military-industrial complex and
Israeli intelligence. Carbyne is hardly the only Israeli
intelligence-linked tech company marketing itself in the United States
as a solution to mass shootings. Another Israeli start-up, known as
Gabriel, was founded in 2016 in response to a shooting in Tel Aviv and
the Pulse Nightclub shooting in the United States, which took place
just days apart.  Created by Israeli-American Yoni Sherizen and
Israeli citizen Asaf Adler, Gabriel is similar to Carbyne in the sense
that elements of its crisis response platform require installation on
civilian smartphones as well as devices used by crisis responders. The
main difference is that Gabriel also installs one or a series of
physical “panic buttons,” depending on the size of the building to be
secured, that also double as video and audio communication devices
connected to the Gabriel network. As with Carbyne, the ties between
Gabriel and Israeli intelligence are obvious. Indeed, Gabriel’s
four-person advisory board includes Ram Ben-Barak, former deputy
director of the Mossad and former director-general of Israel’s
intelligence ministry; Yohanan Danino, former chief of police for the
state of Israel; and Kobi Mor, former director of overseas missions
for the Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet. The only American on the
advisory board is Ryan Petty, the father of a Parkland shooting victim
and friend of former Florida Governor Rick Scott. Gabriel’s only
disclosed funder is U.S.-based MassChallenge, a start-up accelerator
non-profit. Gabriel is funded by MassChallenge’s Israel branch, which
was opened six months prior to Gabriel’s creation and is partnered
with the Israeli government and the Kraft Group. The Kraft Group is
managed by Robert Kraft, who is currently embroiled in a prostitution
scandal and is also a close friend of President Trump. Notably, one of
MassChallenge Israel’s featured experts is Wendy Singer, the executive
director of SUNC, the organization created and funded by
neoconservative Trump backer Paul Singer with the explicit purpose of
promoting Israel’s tech start-ups and their integration into foreign,
chiefly American, businesses. As was noted in a recent MintPress
report on SUNC, Wendy Singer is the sister of neoconservative
political operative Dan Senor, who founded the now-defunct Foreign
Policy Initiative with Robert Kagan and Bill Kristol, and was
previously the director of AIPAC’s Israel office for 16 years.
Gabriel’s founders have been quite upfront about the fact that the
uptick in shootings in the U.S. has greatly aided their company’s
growth and success. Last November, Sherizen told The Jerusalem Post
that new mass shootings in the U.S. not only increased U.S. demand for
his company’s product but also were opportunities to show the
effectiveness of Gabriel’s approach:

Unfortunately every month there seems to be another high-profile event
of this nature. After the Vegas shooting, we were able to show [that]
our system would have managed to identify the location of the shooter
much quicker.”

The Jerusalem Post noted that Gabriel is set to make considerable
profits if concern over mass shootings continues to build in the U.S.,
writing: With more than 475,000 soft targets across the US and amid
increasing security fears, the potential market for Gabriel is huge.
The company could gain revenues of almost $1 billion if only 10% of
soft targets were to invest around $20,000 in its alert systems.”
Sherizen told the Jerusalem Post:
Our starter kit costs $10,000. Depending on the size and makeup of the
community building, it would cost between $20-30,000 to fully outfit
the location. We have made it very affordable. This is a game-changer
for the lock-down and active shooter drills that are now a standard
part of any child’s upbringing in the States.”

 While it is certainly possible that numerous former officials and
commanders of elite Israeli intelligence agencies may have no ulterior
motive in advising or founding technology start-up companies, it is
worth pointing out that top figures in Israel’s military intelligence
agencies and the Mossad don’t see it that way.  Last March, Israeli
media outlet Calcalist Tech published a report entitled “Israel Blurs
the Line Between Defense Apparatus and Local Cybersecurity Hub,” which
noted that “since 2012, cyber-related and intelligence projects that
were previously carried out in-house in the Israeli military and
Israel’s main intelligence arms are transferred to companies that in
some cases were built for this exact purpose.” (emphasis added) The
article notes that beginning in 2012, Israel’s intelligence and
military intelligence agencies began to outsource “activities that
were previously managed in-house, with a focus on software and cyber
technologies.” (emphasis added)  It continues:  In some cases,
managers of development projects in the Israeli military and
intelligence arms were encouraged to form their own companies, which
then took over the project,’ an Israeli venture capitalist familiar
with the matter told Calcalist Tech.” Notably, Calcalist Tech states
that the controversial company Black Cube was created this way and
that Black Cube had been contracted, and is likely still contracted,
by Israel’s Ministry of Defense. The private security agency Black
Cube is known to have two separate divisions for corporations and
governments. The firm was recently caught attempting to undermine the
Iran nuclear deal — then also a top political objective of Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — by attempting to obtain
information on the “financial or sexual impropriety” (i.e., blackmail)
of top U.S. officials involved in drafting the accord. NBC News noted
last year that “Black Cube’s political work frequently intersects with
Israel’s foreign policy priorities.” As previously mentioned, one of
Carbyne’s co-founders — Lital Leshem, also a veteran of Unit 8200 —
worked for Black Cube prior to starting Carbyne. One of the main
companies profiled in the Calcalist Tech report appeared to be a front
for Israeli intelligence, as its registered owner was found not to
exist: even high-level employees at the company had never heard of
him; his registered addresses were for nonexistent locations in
Israel’s capital of Tel Aviv; and the three people with that name in
Tel Aviv denied any association with the business.  This company —
which Calcalist Tech was unable to name after the Israeli military
censor determined that doing so could negatively impact Israeli
“national security” — was deliberately created to service the Israeli
military and Israeli intelligence. It is also “focused on cyber
technologies with expertise in research and development of advanced
products and applications suitable for defense and commercial
entities.” (emphases added) In addition, the company’s management
consists largely of “veterans of Israeli military technology units.”
Notably, a former employee of this company told Calcalist Tech that
“crossing the lines between military service and employment at the
commercial outfit was ‘commonplace’ while he was working at the
company.” It’s not exactly clear why Israel’s military intelligence
and other intelligence agencies decided to begin outsourcing its
operations in 2012, though Calcalist Tech suggests the reasoning was
related to the difference in wages between the private sector and the
public sector, with pay being much higher in the former. However, it
is notable that 2012 was also the year that Paul Singer — together
with Netanyahu’s long-time economic adviser and former chair of the
Israeli National Economic Council, Eugene Kandel — decided to create
Start-Up Nation Central. As MintPress noted earlier this year, SUNC
was founded as part of a deliberate Israeli government effort to
counter the nonviolent Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement
and to make Israel the dominant global “cyber power.” This policy is
aimed at increasing Israel’s diplomatic power and specifically
undermining BDS as well as the United Nations, which has repeatedly
condemned Israel’s government for war crimes and violations of
international law in relation to the Palestinians.  Last year,
Netanyahu was asked by Fox News host Mark Levin whether the large
growth seen in recent years in Israel’s technology sector,
specifically tech start-ups, was part of Netanyahu’s plan. Netanyahu
responded, “That’s very much my plan … It’s a very deliberate policy.”
He later added that “Israel had technology because the military,
especially military intelligence, produced a lot of capabilities.
These incredibly gifted young men and women who come out of the
military or the Mossad, they want to start their start-ups.” Netanyahu
again outlined this policy at the 2019 Cybertech Conference in Tel
Aviv, where he stated that Israel’s emergence as one of the top five
“cyber powers” had “required allowing this combination of military
intelligence, academia and industry to converge in one place” and that
this further required allowing “our graduates of our military and
intelligence units to merge into companies with local partners and
foreign partners.”  The direct tie-ins of SUNC to Israel’s government
and the successful effort led by SUNC and other companies and
organizations to place former military intelligence and intelligence
operatives in strategic positions in major multinational technology
companies reveal that this “deliberate policy” has had a major and
undeniable impact on the global tech industry, especially in Silicon
Valley.

Mossad gets its own In-Q-Tel
This “deliberate policy” of Netanyahu’s also recently resulted in the
creation of a Mossad-run venture capital fund that is specifically
focused on financing Israeli tech start-ups. The venture capital fund,
called Libertad, was first announced by Israel’s Prime Minister’s
Office and was created with the explicit purpose of “increasing the
Israeli intelligence agency’s knowledge base and fostering
collaboration with Israel’s vibrant startup scene” It was modeled
after the CIA’s venture capital fund In-Q-Tel, which invested in
several Silicon Valley companies turned government and intelligence
contractors — including Google and Palantir — with a similar goal in
mind. Libertad declines to reveal the recipients of its funding, but
announced last December that it had chosen five companies in the
fields of robotics, energy, encryption, web in

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The c21st real time not only unfolds itself at the speed of light but is full of mind bending twists and turns. Jeffrey Epstein "had a collection of eyeballs on his wall" [Counterpunch].
Law & Politics


The eyeballs make sense, because Epstein was a watcher. ..Is it a
coincidence that we all live in a watch-and-collect digital economy?
maybe. But we feast upon each other in the 21st century.
He was, in the words of the New York Times, “not closely monitored.”
Jeffrey Epstein was a spy, in a society of spies. He was a collector,
in a collector’s economy. He was a watcher, and he died while nobody
was watching.
 “To the millennials who are looking at the world through their phone
Johnnie Walker is way more aspirational than any other brown spirit in
East Africa,” Andrew Cowan told African Business Magazine.
The point is that the smart phone is ubi- quitous even in the furthest
corners of the World and we are all peering at a newsreel.Except, of
course, if you are in Kashmir which was described by Nehru as “the
snowy bosom of the Himalayas” and which is currently switched off from
the c21st.

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19-AUG-2019 :: It is not possible to Xinjiang Hong Kong, I think
Law & Politics


The Citizens in Hong Kong have been Virilian.
“Whoever controls the territory possesses it. Possession of territory
is not primarily about laws and contracts, but first and foremost a
matter of movement and circulation.”

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Bitcoin is increasingly moving in an opposite direction to China's currency -- suggesting it may have become a refuge for people hedging the yuan's depreciation. @YahooFinance
International Trade


The biggest digital coin reached a record inverse relationship in the
past week, according to a Bloomberg analysis of their 30-day
correlation.

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2019 Currency Returns vs. US Dollar...@charliebilello
International Trade


Canadian Dollar: +4%
Japanese Yen: +3%
Singapore Dollar: -1%
Mexican Peso: +0.4%
Swiss Franc: -0.6%
Australian Dollar: -3%
British Pound: -3%
New Zealand Dollar: -4%
Euro: -4%
Norwegian Krone: -4%
Brazilian Real: -5%
Swedish Krona: -8%

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies


Euro 1.1027
Dollar Index 98.434
Japan Yen 106.89
Swiss Franc 0.9889
Pound 1.2275
Aussie 0.6855
India Rupee 71.69
South Korea Won 1191.95
Brazil Real 4.0634
Egypt Pound 16.4975
South Africa Rand 14.79

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2019 Returns...@charliebilello
World Currencies


Bitcoin: +180%
25+ Zeros $ZROS: +34%
REITs $VNQ: +27%
Nasdaq 100 $QQQ: +25%
Oil $USO: +22%
S&P 500 $SPY: +20%
Gold $GLD: +17%
Investment Grade $LQD: +16%
Small Caps $IWM: +13%
EAFE $EFA: +12%
High Yield $HYG: +11%
US Bonds $AGG: +9%
EM $EEM: +6%
Cash $BIL: +1.5%

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2019 Commodity Returns (Spot)...@charliebilello
Commodities


Palladium: +29%
WTI Crude: +25%
Gasoline: +21%
Platinum: +20%
Gold: +18%
Silver: +17%
Brent Crude +14%
Heating Oil: +13%
Lumber: +5%
Copper: +0.1%
Soybeans: -4%
Corn: -5%
Coffee: -6%
Cocoa: -7%
Wheat: -8%
Sugar: -9%
Natural Gas: -15%
Cotton: -18%

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Crude Oil 6 Month Chart INO 57.17
Commodities


Emerging Markets

Frontier Markets

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09-SEP-2019 :: Mugabe started well but had a bad finish @T heStarKenya
Africa


Robert Gabriel Mugabe who had previously opined thus on the occasion
of his 88th birthday

''I have died many times — that’s where I have beaten Christ. Christ
died once and resurrected once.”

died in a Singapore Hospital. Peter Bouckaert of HRW said of him

“He was the liberation hero of an era—a poster child for African
liberation. Bob Marley played at his inauguration in 1980”

Mugabe was without doubt erudite and an intellectual

''Mugabe’s secret was that he was always the cleverest person in the
room'' [Simon Allison Mail and Guardian]

One of his Biographers Blair argued that Mugabe shared many character
traits with Ian Smith, stating that they were both "proud, brave,
stubborn, charismatic, deluded fantasists"

According to The Black Scholar journal, "depending on who you listen
to ... Mugabe is either one of the world's great tyrants or a fearless
nationalist who has incurred the wrath of the West."

Morgan Tsvangirai said “He is, on one hand, the man who liberated our
country from the white colonialists, and he is also this man who has
murdered and repressed in a dictatorial manner, I say: he is the
founding father of Zimbabwe, and the problem we have is to save the
positive side of his contribution to this country, and to let history
judge his negative contributions.” He added, “For me, I find it quite
profound that he is quite an old man who has mismanaged his own
succession.”

Mario Vargas Llosa in his book The Neighborhood which was a book about
Peru in the time of Fujimori and the The Doctor Vladimiro Montesinos
wrote

''Something bigger than You and me Power. You don’t fool around with
Power my Friend'' which I would argue was a common and overarching
thread of his 37 years of leadership.

After assuming power, he moved fast to create a de facto one-party
state. In the early 1980s, he suppressed the Ndebele rebellion in
Matabeleland with great brutality. He unleashed the War veterans on
the White Farmers when Tony Blair's Labour Government reneged on
promises to provide Funds to buy out the White Farmers. Of course,
neither the White Farmers nor Tony Blair nor the MDC overthrew him but
in a Shakespeare level outcome it was his trusted lieutenant Emmerson
Mnangagwa who ''removed the plug from the socket of political power''
[ Alex T. Magaisa].  I have not got the space to dive further into the
Psychology of the Man or the influence of his second Wife ''Gucci''
Grace who actually should have been called ''Ferragamo'' Grace because
she said that her narrow feet meant she could only wear Ferragamo
shoes.

Jonathan Moyo said. “And, meanwhile, the people forgot the vision of
the liberation struggle. The people were saying, ‘What good is
liberation without food?’

And this is the Point.

Mugabe started well but then presided over the immiseration of his
country. GDP per capita has shrunk by a third since the 1980s [IMF].
Today, Zimbabwe is the region’s basket case and this is a country with
a Literacy rate of 85%, in the top quintile of SSA countries. More
than 3m Zimbabweans have fled and that's about 1 in 5 Zimbabweans.
Zimbabwe is ranked 45th among 47 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa
region. The Economy has crashed and burned not once but repeatedly.
Inflation whilst not hitting the levels we saw in 2008 is flying off
the charts again. This is an Economy which was the ''breadbasket'' of
the region. Most of Zimbabwe's Citizens are ''born free'' the fight
for independence was real but is no longer relevant is it?

We are grateful to all those iconic leaders who liberated our
Continent of which Mugabe is one but at what price? Fighting for
independence is not the same as building an Economy which provides
opportunity for all its citizens.

As some African leaders laud Mugabe today, ⁦‪@PastorEvanLive‬⁩ argues:
 "There can be no mixed feelings, misconceptions or complications
about Robert Mugabe’s legacy. He presided over the destruction of
millions of people’s lives over a span of 37 years."

Emmerson Mnanagwa who was eulogising Mugabe as a Revolutionary Icon
has failed and is frankly as untenable as his erstwhile Mentor.

This is an enormously rich Country. My Wife who comes from Blantrye
described to me how when she was young driving to Harare was like
visiting the 1st World. The Human Capital is seriously talented. Its
time to boom the Economy. Its not rocket science.

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The Destroyer Robert Mugabe and the destruction of Zimbabwe. By Jon Lee Anderson @NewYorker
Africa


Nine hundred years ago, at a site on a high plateau north of the
Limpopo River called Great Zimbabwe, Shona kings built stone palaces
where they lived in splendid isolation from their subjects, with
absolute authority over their means to sustain life—cattle herds,
land, and the gold that came out of the earth. In the
nineteen-sixties, members of a liberation movement in what was then
Rhodesia, among them Robert Mugabe, adopted Great Zimbabwe’s name to
refer to the notional state they were fighting for. Today, Mugabe can
be said to be the owner of the riches that remain in the nation of
Zimbabwe. After twenty-eight years, he remains in power––Zimbabwe’s
only President since the end of whiteminority rule, in 1980. His
nephew Leo, therefore, leads a cushioned life. He is an entrepreneur
and has stakes in several companies, among them a mobile-phone
network. He is a director of Zimbabwe Defense Industries, which
purchases the weaponry for his uncle’s Army—most of it, these days,
from China. He also controls at least one large farm that had been
seized from its white owners. In the nineties, Leo earned notoriety
for his alleged role in securing kickbacks, on behalf of his uncle and
other officials, in the construction of Harare International Airport.
In 2005, he was arrested for the contraband export and sale of
government-owned food, but the charges were withdrawn for lack of
evidence. (Leo said the allegations in both cases were unfounded.)
That year, he was a candidate for Parliament for the Zimbabwe African
National UnionPatriotic Front, known as zanu-P*.*F*.*, the ruling
party. He won in a landslide.

Earlier this year, Leo was added to a sanctions list first imposed by
the United States in 2003 against Robert Mugabe and members of his
government. The sanctions included a travel ban and the freezing of
foreign assets, and also prohibit Americans from doing business with
those on the list. Leo was also named on a sanctions list maintained
by the European Union, for his arms-dealing activities. The new
sanctions came in response to a wave of terror that Robert Mugabe had
unleashed in the country’s Presidential campaign. More than a hundred
and fifty opposition supporters were murdered, many were raped, and
thousands of people were beaten or tortured, often after being herded
into so-called reëducation camps. Because of the violence, Mugabe’s
rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, whose Movement for Democratic Change, or
M.D.C., had won a slender majority in the country’s first round of
voting in March, dropped out of the race and went into hiding. In the
runoff vote on June 27th, Mugabe was unopposed and was quickly
declared the winner.

Leo Mugabe works from an office building he owns in Harare, where I
met him this summer. His brand-new silver Toyota Land Cruiser Amazon
was parked outside. He is a slim, goateed man of fifty-one, and was
dressed in a dark tailored suit. On the wall behind his desk hung a
map of Zimbabwe made out of a patchwork of animal skins. His
secretary, a young woman wearing a tight skirt and jacket, very high
heels, and a great deal of jewelry, sat down with us. Her hair was
arranged in red-dyed cornrows, and as Leo spoke she scribbled
everything down on a notepad, expressing approval whenever he made a
point, like a personal cheerleader. He was in a good mood, emanating
confidence and optimism over Zimbabwe’s future.

“Have you seen anyone beaten up since you’ve been here?” he asked.
“There was less violence here than in Nigeria! And we all know why
Zimbabwe’s violence is being exaggerated—it’s about the fortune in the
land. We have certain resources here, such as nickel, gold, and
platinum. I think Zimbabweans now understand that they are suffering
because of sanctions by the United States, Great Britain, and the
Europeans.” Otherwise, Zimbabwe’s prospects were excellent—his uncle
had been distributing computers to rural schools, for example. “In a
few years, rural Zimbabwe will be computer-literate. We are a nation
which is moving, and these children will understand what empowerment
really means.”

That week, however, the inflation rate in Zimbabwe had officially
reached eleven million per cent, the highest in the world; analysts
later reckoned it to have been two hundred and thirty million per
cent. Eighty per cent of Zimbabweans were out of work. Chronic
malnutrition was prevalent, and starvation was spreading in the
countryside. Close to two million Zimbabweans depended for survival on
food handouts from international aid agencies. Twenty per cent of the
population was infected with H.I.V./aids. Zimbabwe’s life expectancy
is forty-four years for men, forty-three for women. But Leo Mugabe
scoffed at the idea that the situation was dire. “People are going
about their business,” he said. “No one is starving—they are driving
nice cars! As a Christian, though, I think it is a challenge by God,
and the attention being drawn to Zimbabwe is maybe to highlight that
we are the new people of Israel, and that we have our own Moses.” I
understood “Moses” to be his uncle. His secretary greeted the analogy
with an exclamation of delight.

Under Robert Mugabe’s leadership, in 2000 his most militant
supporters—many of them veterans of the seventies civil war—began
forcibly occupying the country’s five thousand white-owned commercial
farms, with the help of armed gangs and, frequently, zanu-P*.*F*.*
officials. By almost all accounts, these actions precipitated the
country’s economic decline. Leo disagreed. “We have no regrets—he has
none, and I have none,” he said.

“We have taken the land,” Leo went on. “So what is the next move? The
next move is the mines, the minerals. We know we are very rich—without
the British or the Americans. Yes, they invested, but if we have to we
will go and take over the mines, too.” Zimbabwe has the world’s
second-largest platinum reserves and is relatively rich in other
minerals. The country’s mining industry accounts for some forty per
cent of its export income. In 2006, Robert Mugabe threatened to
nationalize the mines by assigning Zimbabwe a controlling
fifty-one-per-cent stake in them. Negotiations with the mine owners,
which include South Africa’s Implats and Anglo Platinum, and the
United Kingdom’s Rio Tinto, have dragged on ever since. “Rio Tinto can
stay there in London, but their mines and their equipment will stay
here. Is that what they want? Because that’s where they are headed,”
Leo said. “We can give the mines to the black Zimbabweans, the people
who work them now,” he added. “We are not going to go back on the land
issue, and the wealth that lies underneath the land will remain ours,
too.”

Leo wasn’t bothered by the possibility that seizing the mines might
leave Zimbabwe even more isolated. “We have also invited other rich
and powerful countries to come, and we know what they are interested
in—the Russians and the Chinese and the Indians, too,” he said. “The
Americans and the Brits are not coming to the table, but these guys
are willing to deal with us. And they are already here.” He added,
“It’s happening this year. By 2010, we will be flying!”

As I took my leave, Leo Mugabe informed me that diamonds had recently
been discovered in eastern Zimbabwe. The find had convinced him, he
said, that there was “something unique about this time, in this
country.”

Robert Mugabe’s regime is hostile to Western reporters, and most of
the journalists who visited Zimbabwe this summer were disguised as
tourists, avoiding official contacts and possible arrest. (The Times
correspondent Barry Bearak was detained for four days.) When I entered
Zimbabwe, therefore, I proceeded with some caution. I stayed not in a
hotel but in a family’s home, and I drove around Harare in a used
Nissan pickup truck, dressed in an Adidas tracksuit I had bought in
Johannesburg, passing for a white Zimbabwean.

There were a few zanu-P*.*F*.* officials whom I could interview,
however. More than anything else, I wanted to understand what kind of
logic had led Robert Mugabe to destroy his country, and his own
reputation. “He was the liberation hero of an era—a poster child for
African liberation. Bob Marley played at his inauguration in 1980,”
Peter Bouckaert, the emergencies director for Human Rights Watch, told
me. “That’s the tragedy of what’s happened there.” Although few
African leaders dared to speak out publicly against him, Mugabe, who
is eighty-four, had become an object of international derision and
contempt. In June, he was stripped of the honorary knighthood that
Queen Elizabeth II had bestowed on him in 1994; that same day, Nelson
Mandela, at his ninetieth birthday party, lamented “the tragic failure
of leadership in our neighboring Zimbabwe.”

Even Morgan Tsvangirai, who has paid a hard price for his opposition
to Mugabe—surviving three assassination attempts, trial for treason,
and, last year, a severe beating by the police that left him with
serious head injuries—told me that Mugabe inspired “divided emotions.”
“He is, on one hand, the man who liberated our country from the white
colonialists, and he is also this man who has murdered and repressed
in a dictatorial manner,” Tsvangirai told me. “I say: he is the
founding father of Zimbabwe, and the problem we have is to save the
positive side of his contribution to this country, and to let history
judge his negative contributions.” He added, “For me, I find it quite
profound that he is quite an old man who has mismanaged his own
succession.”

During my visit, I drove through farmlands that were unkempt and
fallow and largely depopulated. Much of the land had been scorched by
fires. Here and there, bluish tendrils of smoke curled upward from the
burning bush. I passed one former white-owned commercial farm after
another, their owners gone, their croplands ravaged. There were
roofless barns and greenhouses, collapsed boundary fencing, and what
had been plowed land dotted with squatters’ thatch-roofed huts. Groups
of destitute-looking men and boys stood at the roadside selling
whatever they could—onions, oranges, wooden carvings of animals—or
waiting hours for the chance of a ride. There were very few cars on
the roads. At checkpoints on the outskirts of Harare, policemen waved
down vehicles to inspect them for illegal quantities of
“mealie-meal”—ground maize, the Zimbabwean national staple. Along with
the severe food shortages, there was a thriving black market, and the
Mugabe government had imposed strict price controls on essential
foodstuffs. Individuals caught carrying more than the legal amount of
food often had to pay bribes to the police, or face confiscation of
their goods.

In the weeks after the election, as the political stalemate persisted,
the value of Zimbabwe’s currency plummeted. Before crossing the border
from South Africa, I had exchanged a hundred American dollars for
three trillion five hundred billion Zimbabwean—thirty-five billion to
a dollar. Most of the cash was newly minted five-, twenty-five-, and
fifty-billion-dollar notes, with pictures of giraffes and grain silos.
A few days later, the going rate was a hundred billion to one. Food
prices tripled overnight, and many salaries were made virtually
worthless. Cash was becoming nearly impossible to obtain; banks were
allowing customers to withdraw the equivalent of only one U.S. dollar
per day. The effect was a state of existential madness. Prices
bordered on the fantastic, and ordinary people had to grapple with
calculations in the trillions for the most prosaic transactions. One
day, I wandered into a supermarket to buy some water. The price for a
half-litre bottle was $1,900,000,000,000 Zimbabwean, or nineteen U.S.
dollars. On a nearby shelf, I found a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black
for $83,000,000,000,000.

It wasn’t only Zimbabwe’s economy that had a looking-glass quality. In
the capital, there was a semblance of outward calm—people went to
work, African women walked by with loads on their heads, and pairs of
white women went jogging through neighborhoods with names like
Trelawney, Avondale, and Belgravia—but the tortured bodies of missing
M.D.C. members were still turning up, and Tsvangirai and many of his
fellow party members were living in semi-hiding. The city was
plastered with campaign posters of Mugabe in a defiant pose, one fist
raised, bearing the slogan “The Final Battle for Total Control.”
Notwithstanding the terror tactics that had for years been used to
intimidate Zimbabwe’s media, opposition newspapers continued to be
published, with front-page photographs showing victims of official
violence. These were sold at Harare’s traffic lights, alongside
pro-government newspapers, which reported from a parallel reality in
which Comrade Mugabe was the much beloved leader of all Zimbabweans,
the country’s election violence had been caused by the M.D.C., and the
true reason for Zimbabwe’s economic suffering was the “illegal
sanctions” imposed by the West.

The Sunday Mail of July 13-19th ran a front-page article headlined
“first lady distributes tractors.” There was a photograph of Grace
Mugabe, the President’s second wife. (They were married in a lavish
ceremony in 1996, after his first wife died of a kidney ailment;
Mugabe was seventy-two and Grace, who had been his secretary, was
thirty-one. At the time of the wedding, they already had two children;
they have since had a third.) She was seated behind the wheel of a
tractor, wreathed in jewelry and wearing a campaign shirt emblazoned
with her husband’s portrait. “President Mugabe has taken it upon
himself to make sure the nation is fully empowered to utilize the
land,” the First Lady told the paper. “Nowhere in the world has a
government distributed farm equipment to its citizens. He is doing
this because he has the people at heart.” In an allusion to the war
veterans, she added, “Those who died during the war did not die in
vain. They died so that we can have 100 percent total empowerment.”

“Empowerment” has been one of the rhetorical pillars of Mugabe’s
government, but many of the schemes to benefit black “indigenous
Zimbabweans” have been used by those in positions of authority or
influence to enrich themselves. For all the talk of redistribution,
Mugabe and his circle have not so much broken with the past as assumed
for themselves an updated version of the country-club life style once
enjoyed exclusively by the nation’s whites. There are many newly built
luxury villas in Harare, and a sizable number of Mercedes-Benzes and
Volvos, the vehicles of choice among Zimbabwe’s black nomenklatura.
(Affluent whites seem to prefer S.U.V.s.) In 2005, Mugabe and his wife
moved into a new twenty-five-bedroom mansion in Borrowdale Brooke, a
Harare suburb, which cost a reported ten million U.S. dollars to
build. Nobody knows exactly how he paid for it, but in Harare it is
received wisdom that the mansion was financed by the Chinese, to whom
the President had granted lucrative mining and trade concessions.
Mugabe said openly that he had the help of “foreign governments.” (He
added that Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad, a
personal friend, had donated tropical timber for the roof; China was
reported to have supplied the shiny blue roof tiles.) Grace Mugabe has
become infamous for her shopping expeditions abroad and, like Imelda
Marcos, her expensive taste in shoes; she has been quoted as saying
that because of her narrow feet she can “only wear Ferragamo.” Shortly
after her marriage to Mugabe, Grace oversaw the construction of
another mansion, called Graceland, which was allegedly built with
public funds. She later sold Graceland to the Libyan government.

Another legacy of the colonial era is the cross-hatching of interests
between the government and the private sector. A mining-company
official I met with, a white man and a prominent figure in Zimbabwe,
spoke of fending off direct requests for bribes from a senior cabinet
minister, whom he described as “especially rapacious.” He confided
that the executives of several mining companies had, under pressure,
given large sums of money to government officials that were used to
help fund the zanu-P*.*F*.* election campaign. He added that Mugabe
and his cronies would probably continue to use the threat of
expropriation of the mines as a “political bludgeon” to extract bribes
from mining companies. Meanwhile, he expected to see “more Chinese
take over more dubious concessions.”

This kleptocratic style of government has had a trickle-down effect:
corruption and graft are depressingly unremarkable in Mugabe’s
Zimbabwe. Transparency International places the nation near the bottom
of its global index on corruption for 2008, at No. 166 out of a
hundred and eighty countries surveyed. Corruption is the key to the
regime’s survival, and the economic instrument that sustains it.

The First Lady’s tractor-giving munificence was also a form of
patronage. The beneficiary was Zvimba, a rural district just northwest
of Harare, where, on February 21, 1924, her husband, Robert Gabriel
Mugabe, was born, in the British colony of Southern Rhodesia. Mugabe
was the third of four sons of a Shona couple. When he was ten, his two
older brothers died, and Mugabe’s father, a carpenter, abandoned the
family. His mother was left to look after him, his younger brother,
and his two sisters. (One of them, Sabina, Leo’s mother, was the M.P.
for Zvimba, and was involved in orchestrating a number of violent land
seizures.) She managed to have Robert educated at a Jesuit mission
school, where he was given a scholarship by the Irish headmasters. He
went on to attend a South African university, Fort Hare, where, in
1951, he obtained a B.A. in history and English literature. He spent
several years teaching, and earned two more degrees, in Southern
Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), and newly independent Ghana,
where the charismatic Marxist leader Kwame Nkrumah was providing
inspiration and tutelage to a generation of black nationalists.

Mugabe was radicalized during his time in Ghana; he also met Sally
Hayfron, his first wife. In 1960, they returned to Southern Rhodesia,
and Mugabe, who had developed into a skilled orator, soon emerged as
the secretary-general of zanu, one of the country’s two main black
nationalist parties. The other was the Zimbabwe African People’s
Union, or zapu, led by Joshua Nkomo. zanu’s constituency was
principally the Shona people, Zimbabwe’s dominant ethnic group; zapu’s
support came mostly from the Ndebele, the Zulu-related tribe that
inhabits southwestern Zimbabwe. And zanu, Mugabe’s party, was
nominally Maoist, receiving Chinese assistance, including training by
Chinese military instructors, while zapu adhered to Soviet policy and
enjoyed Russian backing. (Key members of the ruling élite,
particularly in the military, have personal ties to China that go back
to those days.)

In 1964, Mugabe, who had been arrested a number of times, was charged
with encouraging subversion and spent the next eleven years in prison.
In 1965, as other colonies were gaining independence under black
African leaders, Southern Rhodesia’s colonial Prime Minister, Ian
Smith, unilaterally declared independence from Britain, on behalf of
the white minority (eventually proclaiming the land the republic of
Rhodesia). The following year, Mugabe’s only child with Sally,
Nhamodzenyika, a boy of three, died of encephalitis. During his time
in prison, Mugabe obtained four more degrees, including one in law,
after passing correspondence courses from British and South African
universities.

After his release, in December of 1974, Mugabe fled to Mozambique, to
join his exiled zanu comrades, who by then had a guerrilla force
engaged in a full-scale fight against the Rhodesian Army. Some thirty
thousand people are believed to have died in Rhodesia’s civil war,
which black Zimbabweans refer to as the Liberation War, and which
whites call the Bush War. The fighting continued until 1979, when the
British brokered ceasefire talks at Lancaster House, in London. Mugabe
was one of the signatories to the resulting agreement, and, in
February, 1980, he and his party won Zimbabwe’s first general
election.

Mugabe had agreed to an “independence constitution” that could not be
altered for ten years: whites, who made up five per cent of the
population, were granted twenty seats out of a hundred in Parliament,
and, in return for a British commitment of financial assistance for a
“willing seller, willing buyer” scheme to help settle landless blacks,
Mugabe agreed not to touch the country’s white-owned farmlands.

The land issue did not go away, however. It dated to the
eighteen-nineties, when great swaths of land were granted to white
settlers, while Africans were forcibly confined to designated
“communal lands”; a century later, most blacks were still landless. In
its first decade, Mugabe’s government purchased some six and a half
million acres, about a third of the white-owned land, and settled some
fifty thousand families on it. But there was little follow-through,
and most of the black farmers did not thrive. In 1990, Mugabe secured
a constitutional amendment that allowed his government to requisition
land at will, and to set the purchase price. Wrangling between the
government and the white farmers ensued, with no resolution, even as
expropriations proceeded in a haphazard and arbitrary fashion. The
process was accompanied by corruption: Mugabe’s political opponents
lost farms while his allies and relatives were allocated land.

The gathering contradictions of those years laid the groundwork for a
new political opposition, led by Morgan Tsvangirai. In contrast to
Mugabe, who is moody and socially aloof, Tsvangirai is outgoing and
warm and, at fifty-six, is a generation younger than Mugabe. His
origins are equally humble: he is the son of a bricklayer, the eldest
of nine children. Unlike Mugabe, he did not finish high school but
went to work in a nickel mine to put his siblings through school. He
became a labor organizer, and in 1988 was elected secretary-general of
the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. Under Tsvangirai, the labor
movement became the main vehicle for Zimbabwe’s fledgling opposition,
gradually taking shape, in 1999, as the M.D.C.

In the late nineties, Tony Blair’s Labour government and other Western
donors refused to continue subsidizing Zimbabwe’s “land reform.” In
retaliation, Mugabe staged a constitutional referendum, in February of
2000, that would give him wider powers, including the authority to
confiscate land without consultation. The M.D.C.—which, in those days,
had close ties to Zimbabwe’s white farmers—campaigned forcefully
against Mugabe’s bill, and it was defeated. A few weeks later, groups
of machete-wielding so-called “war veterans” simultaneously invaded
white-owned farms across the country. Mugabe made it plain that the
land invasions had his blessing.

In the textbooks used in Zimbabwe’s public schools, the issues of
land, wealth, and race are pointedly linked. In a chapter titled
“Money and Wealth” in the fifth-grade social-studies textbook, there
is a section that reads:

The whites took over the land. They farmed the best parts themselves,
and sold their crops for money. The blacks were left with poor land,
and not enough of it. They soon began to need money to buy food,
because they could no longer grow enough for themselves. They also
needed money to pay taxes to the white government.

But the blacks found it hard to earn much money. They had to work for
the whites, and they were never paid very much. All the best paid jobs
went to the whites. Unlike their ancestors, who often had many
possessions, most Zimbabweans were now poor. . . . This has now
changed; blacks and whites are working together in Zimbabwe.

But the results of the farm-seizure policy have been disastrous for
almost all Zimbabweans. Of the forty-five hundred white-owned
commercial farms that existed eight years ago, and which accounted for
more than half of Zimbabwe’s arable land, all but about four hundred
have been taken over; most were looted and destroyed. About a dozen
white farmers and many more black farmworkers have been murdered. Half
a million black farmworkers have been made destitute, along with their
families, having lost their jobs and their homes at the same time. (In
2005, Mugabe ordered the police to bulldoze shantytowns in Harare and
other cities, where many of the black farmworkers had ended up, in an
operation that he called “Drive Out Rubbish.” Seven hundred thousand
were left homeless.) Less than a decade ago, Zimbabwe was one of the
breadbaskets of Africa, exporting maize and meat to its neighbors;
today, there is no commercial agriculture to speak of. As many as
three million Zimbabweans have fled to South Africa as migrant
workers. (They have not been entirely welcome: last May, in an
outbreak of xenophobic violence, many were killed by marauding gangs
in townships in Johannesburg and elsewhere.) Life for most Zimbabweans
revolves around economic survival.

“Everyone is agreed on the need for land reform; we didn’t agree on
the methodology,” Tsvangirai told me. “The landless are still
landless, freebooters are still exploiting, the selection process was
wrong, and everything is chaotic.” He added, “We can’t go back to
pre-2000, but the chaos that is taking place now cannot continue.”

In an elevated parking garage in downtown Harare, I met with a war
veteran whom I’ll call Baltazar. He was in his late fifties, dressed
in a worn houndstooth jacket. Baltazar was one of zanu’s élite
Chinese-trained guerrilla cadres. He had worked directly for Mugabe at
the beginning of his Presidency—and had liked him—and then for
Zimbabwe’s intelligence service under diplomatic cover in China, the
United States, and Africa. But he had a large family, and needed money
for school fees. He told me that he had been involved in the takeover
of a white-owned farm. “I was one of several people working in the
President’s office who were offered a farm,” he said. “We made an
arrangement with the owner. He would do the plowing for us with his
tractors, and he would give us the seed we needed, and he would keep
seventy per cent of the returns.” They had been there about a year and
a half when, he said, “an official came out with a document saying
that the area would be taken over by a big man in the government. We
resisted until they called in a police support unit, and we realized
it was hopeless and gave up.”

Things had not worked out for the “big man,” however, and Baltazar and
his associates had been told that they might be able to reoccupy the
land. So far, they hadn’t. “We now realize we would not be able to do
anything with the land without resources—we would need equipment,
loans, which are not there. And, secretly, it’s because we anticipate
a radical change in the country and we don’t want to be associated
with a regime that took over land and then misused it.”

Baltazar shot me a look, and said, “The occupation of land was very
popular after the liberation, because the whites owned it and they
were rich, and so the people, and many war vets, thought that if we
took over the farms then we will automatically be well-to-do, like the
whites whom we removed. We didn’t realize that it took them decades to
make those farms productive. Most of us now realize that farming is
not a simple process.”

Baltazar was defensive about the war veterans’ role in the country’s
unfolding catastrophe. “My experience is that most are not interested
in violence—those involved in violence are either pseudo-vets or
opportunists.” But, he conceded, “some are, and some are benefitting.”
One of the things that had led to the push for land, he said, was that
veterans with serious injuries had received nothing from a highly
publicized war victims’ compensation fund, while senior officials had
been given large sums for slight or imaginary wounds. Now, things had
gone very far, and veterans felt obliged, because of what they had
done, to back the regime at all costs: “The regime has instilled fear
in the war vets that they will lose their pensions and they might face
retribution from whoever might take over.”

The elections in March, which Tsvangirai won by almost forty-eight per
cent to Mugabe’s forty-three (forcing a runoff, since neither
candidate achieved an absolute majority), were a shock to Mugabe and
his supporters, and led to a rush to attach blame. “zanu-P*.*F*.*
began to be too relaxed about things,” Ben Moyo, a Mugabe loyalist
since the sixties and a former M.P., told me. “They didn’t see this
party”—the M.D.C.—“as an agent of British colonialism, as a real
threat, and so they didn’t campaign much. I didn’t, either. We thought
the people would vote for us, as they always do,” Moyo said. “And,
meanwhile, the people forgot the vision of the liberation struggle.
The people were saying, ‘What good is liberation without food?’ That’s
when we had to begin the reëducation process for the 27th of June, to
remind them why it was we took up arms to fight.”

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Robert Gabriel Mugabe, 1924-2019: A tragedy in three acts @mailandguardian @simonallison
Africa


I have died many times — that’s where I have beaten Christ. Christ
died once and resurrected once.” Robert Mugabe, on his 88th birthday.

Almost as long as there has been an independent Zimbabwe, Robert
Mugabe has presided over it. Thirty-seven years in charge.
It wasn’t all bad. But it was mostly bad, and the history books that
he loved to read will judge him harshly.
He was, from the very beginning, an enigma: a jumble of contradictions
that somehow fuelled rather than felled him. He was the Anglophile who
hated Britain; the freedom fighter who denied basic rights to his
people; the pan-African visionary turned archetypal African dictator;
the teacher who refused to learn from his mistakes. He was charming,
and he was cruel. He was loved, and then he was hated.
As long as he was in power, one thing never changed. L’ état, c’est
Mugabe. Mugabe was Zimbabwe. Now he’s gone, dying far from home in a
hospital in Singapore, and Zimbabwe is still searching for a new
identity.

ACT I: THE REVOLUTIONARY

“The people’s votes and the people’s guns are always inseparable
twins.” Robert Mugabe, in a 1976 speech.

Mugabe’s secret was that he was always the cleverest person in the
room. His formidable intellect took him from a modest background into
some of the best schools in the land — the best black schools, of
course, because he was a second-class citizen in colonial Rhodesia —
and then to the University of Fort Hare in South Africa, which was
then a production line for extraordinary Africans. Nelson Mandela
studied there, as did Oliver Tambo, Julius Nyerere and Kenneth Kaunda.

At Fort Hare, Mugabe classmates were Pan African Congress founder
Robert Sobukwe and soon to be Zimbabwe African National Union and
Zimbabwe African People’s Union leader Leopold Takawira, and their
revolutionary zeal rubbed off on him. Afterwards, he taught for a few
years — in northern Rhodesia, and then in Ghana, where he met Sally,
his first wife— but the die had already been cast. Mugabe was a
freedom fighter and a fluent exponent of the language of
pan-Africanism.

His struggle began on his return to Zimbabwe in 1960, where he
immersed himself in the underground opposition, eventually taking a
senior leadership role in the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu).
In 1964, he was arrested for “subversive speech”, and imprisoned for a
decade without charge — a guest of Ian Smith’s brutal regime.

Smith was typically cruel, denying Mugabe permission to attend the
burial of his three-year-old son in 1966. This detail is important:
later, when their roles were reversed, Mugabe allowed Smith to serve
as a member of the Zimbabwean parliament in a powerful gesture of
forgiveness and reconciliation. Mugabe was not always a tyrant.

In prison, he studied. Through distance learning, he earned first an
undergraduate and then a Master’s degree in law from the University of
London, respectively his fourth and fifth university degrees. He had
already done another three through correspondence after Fort Hare, and
there would be another masters in his future. This would make him, by
quite some distance, the best-educated president on the continent, and
possibly in the world.

But he was cunning too, exhibiting a ruthless, Machiavellian streak
from which none were safe. From prison, he manipulated party processes
until he was elected Zanu secretary general in 1974, sidelining
better-known and more accomplished rivals.

After his release later that year, he fled into exile, clutching a
portable typewriter as he crossed the border into Mozambique. Even
then, he knew that words were his most potent weapon. While the bush
war raged around him, Mugabe waged his own personal war against
potential rivals both within the party and broader resistance
movement. The infighting was vicious, violent and at times deadly, but
Mugabe was good at it. By the time Smith was forced to the negotiating
table, Mugabe had the party under control and was perfectly positioned
to succeed him.

ACT II: THE STATESMAN


“Cricket civilises people and creates good gentlemen. I want everyone
to play cricket in Zimbabwe; I want ours to be a nation of gentlemen.”
Robert Mugabe, undated.

Ironically, the modern Zimbabwe was born in London, in stately
Lancaster House. It was there that the United Kingdom brokered talks
between Ian Smith’s Rhodesia and the resistance to white rule; there
that the roadmap to a second independence was created. Elections
followed soon after in February 1980, with Zanu — which by now had
merged with the Patriotic Front, to create the Zanu-PF behemoth —
winning by a landslide.

For Mugabe, these were halcyon days. For a man with such a thirst for
knowledge, what greater privilege could there be than to use that
knowledge to create a nation? He set to work forging perhaps the
finest education system in Africa, and turned Zimbabwe into the fabled
‘breadbasket for southern Africa’. Things were looking up, and he was
celebrated by his peers and feted by the international community.
Mugabe was a bona fide African hero, and he relished the attention.

But all was not as rosy as it seemed in the new republic. Mugabe’s
authoritarian streak did not disappear now that he was in power. Quite
the opposite, in fact. Joshua Nkomo, another liberation legend, was
the highest-profile victim of the prime minister’s growing
megalomania. Intimidated and fearing for his life, Nkomo fled into
exile in 1983.

Much worse was to come. In Shona, there is a word for the early rains
that come before spring, the rains that wash away the useless chaff
and give the crops space to grow. That word is ‘gukurahundi’. In a
message lost on no one in Zimbabwe, it was also the code name of
Mugabe’s military operation to pre-empt resistance from the Ndebele
community. The Shona were the healthy seeds, to be nurtured, while the
Ndebele needed to be washed away.

To do the washing, Mugabe deployed his North Korean-trained Fifth
Brigade. Over the course of five years between 1983 and 1987, they
purged “dissidents” in Matabeleland and surrounds. Sometimes these
were former war veterans, sometimes members of Nkomo’s Zanu. Sometimes
they were civilians, chosen for no obvious reason except that they
were in the wrong place at the wrong time and belonged to the wrong
ethnic group. No one knows exactly how many people died, because no
records were kept. The state did not bother to count its victims.
Conservative estimates put the death toll at 8 000 people. Others say
it was closer to 30 000.

Not that anyone outside of Zimbabwe seemed to care. While the Ndebele
were dying, Robert Mugabe was revelling in his reputation as an
international statesman. It was only later, when his regime started
killing white farmers, that he began to be treated like a pariah by
the international community.

ACT III: THE DICTATOR


“This Hitler has only one objective: justice for his people,
sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his
people and their rights over their resources. If that is Hitler, then
let me be Hitler tenfold.” Robert Mugabe, in a 2003 speech.

Mugabe’s transition from freedom fighter to despised despot was slow,
and uneven. To each their own moment of revelation, when the scales
fell from their eyes and they realised that Zimbabwe’s president had
begun, in some ways, to resemble his Rhodesian predecessor.

Perhaps it was Gukurahundi. Perhaps it was earlier, when Mugabe
murdered and betrayed his comrades in his calculated bid to get ahead.
Perhaps it was when he sent Zimbabwean foot soldiers to fight and die
in the Democratic Republic of Congo, while he and his generals grew
fat off the sale of smuggled minerals. Perhaps it was when he
authorised the seizure of white-owned farms, and encouraged his thugs
to take the land by force. Perhaps it was when he printed money to buy
loyalty, tanking the economy in the process. Perhaps it was when he
stole the 2002 election, or when he beat and bullied the opposition
out of an outright victory in the 2008 poll.

Perhaps it was all of these things. Or perhaps it was none of them.
For even now, with everything we know about what Mugabe did, he could
draw a crowd. He could stand up at the African Union, aged 92, and
rail against imperialism and homosexuality, and receive a standing
ovation. When he was on form, he was charming, and eloquent, a
spellbinding speaker. He was a consummate, charismatic politician.

That irresistible combination of charm, intellect and brutality
allowed Mugabe to hold on to power for far too long, ruling Zimbabwe
as his personal fiefdom, abusing the state and its resources to keep
himself in State House, no matter what the cost.

Of course, it wasn’t the money that motivated him – his second wife,
Grace, was the big spender — but the power. But even he could not hold
on forever. In his last years in office, the vultures began circling,
his age became more apparent, and his authority dwindled into nothing.
He wasn’t calling the shots, not in the state or the party, and his
orders were no longer obeyed without question. Kept in position while
rival factions sought to further their own agenda, he was reduced to a
stumbling figurehead, while the protests against his rule grew ever
louder.

In the end, he didn’t get what he wanted. In 2016, at the United
Nations, Mugabe told his fellow leaders — all younger and less
experienced than him — that he would rule “until God says come”. A
year later, he was betrayed by one of his closest allies, and forced
into a humiliating, albeit long overdue, retirement. It is perhaps no
surprise that once his power evaporated, so too did Mugabe himself
begin to wither away, spending more and more time receiving medical
care in Singapore.

Yes, there will be mourning. Not, perhaps, for the man himself;  but
certainly for the devastating, perhaps irreversible damage he’s done
to the country that he promised to cherish and serve so many years
ago.

Robert Mugabe’s death is no tragedy; his life, ultimately, was.

read more


'We're at War': A Covert Social Media Campaign Boosts Military Rulers @nytimes
Africa


CAIRO — Days after Sudanese soldiers massacred pro-democracy
demonstrators in Khartoum in June, an obscure digital marketing
company in Cairo began deploying keyboard warriors to a second front:
a covert operation to praise Sudan’s military on social media.
The Egyptian company, run by a former military officer and
self-described expert on “internet warfare,” paid new recruits $180 a
month to write pro-military messages using fake accounts on Facebook,
Twitter, Instagram and Telegram. Instructors provided hashtags and
talking points.
Since the ouster of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in April, new
employees were told, protesters had sown chaos in Sudan. Their demands
for democracy were premature and dangerous. Order had to be restored.
“We’re at war,” an instructor told the new employees. “Security is
weak. The army has to rule for now.”
Covert influence campaigns have become a favored tool of leaders in
countries like China and Russia, where manipulation of social media
complements strongarm tactics on the streets.
In the Middle East, though, those campaigns are being coordinated
across borders in an effort to bolster authoritarian rule and douse
the kind of popular protests that gave rise to the Arab Spring in
2011.
The secretive Egyptian effort to support Sudan’s military on social
media this summer by the company in Cairo, New Waves, was just one
part of a much bigger operation that spanned the Middle East and
targeted people in at least nine Middle Eastern and North African
countries, according to Facebook.
The campaign was exposed on Aug. 1 when Facebook announced that it had
shut down hundreds of accounts run by New Waves and an Emirati company
with a near-identical name. Working in concert, the two companies used
money, deception and fake accounts to leverage their audience of
almost 14 million Facebook followers, as well as thousands more on
Instagram.
In an interview, a Facebook spokesman said the company had not found
sufficient evidence to link the operation to the governments of Egypt
or the United Arab Emirates. But there were many hints of such a link.
The New Waves owner, Amr Hussein, retired from the Egyptian military
in 2001 and described himself on his Facebook page as a “researcher on
internet wars.” He is a vocal supporter of Egypt’s authoritarian
leader, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and has publicly campaigned in
support of Mr. el-Sisi’s draconian crackdown on internet freedoms.
His company operates from a military-owned housing project in eastern
Cairo where employees are warned not to speak to outsiders about their
work.
Its messages are a mirror image of the foreign policy objectives of
Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia — a powerful axis
that has wielded immense influence across the Middle East since 2011,
bolstering authoritarian allies or intervening in regional wars.
The internal workings of New Waves were described by four people with
knowledge of the company who spoke on the condition of anonymity
because of the sensitivity of the matter with the Egyptian
authorities.
Responding to Facebook’s accusations, Mr. Hussein, the owner of New
Waves, called the company “liars” and denied any links to the
Emirates. “I don’t know what you are talk about,” he wrote in a text
message, calling Facebook “not fair.” He declined to comment further.
Two former New Waves employees did not respond to requests for comment.
“There have been so many fake accounts,” said Mohamed Suliman, a
Boston-based engineer allied with Sudan’s protest movement. “Fake news
is a real source of danger for Sudan. If there is ever a
counterrevolution, one of the regime’s main tools will be social
media.”
Facebook said the Egyptian and Emirati companies worked together to
manage 361 compromised accounts and pages with a reach of 13.7 million
people. They spent $167,000 on advertising and used false identities
to disguise their role in the operation.
Their posts gave a boost to the Libyan warlord Khalifa Hifter, who
counts Egypt and the United Arab Emirates among his staunchest allies,
praised the United Arab Emirates and slammed the wealthy Persian Gulf
state of Qatar, a sworn enemy of the Saudis, Egyptians and Emiratis.
Other messages talked up the Saudi-led war in Yemen and promoted
independence for Somaliland — a key objective of the Emirates as it
jockeys for influence and lucrative contracts in the Horn of Africa.
The website of the Emirati company, Newave, which shut down after
Facebook named it on Aug. 1, listed its business address as a
government-owned media complex in Abu Dhabi.
A customer service agent at the complex, Twofour54, said Newave had a
registered capacity of 10 employees and named its general manager as
Mohamed Hamdan al-Zaabi. Emails and phone calls to the company went
unanswered.
In Cairo, recruits to the New Waves operation targeting Sudan were
told their job was to create “balance” between the military and
protesters on social media.
“We’re doing something very big, very important here,” one trainer
said. “In the past wars were conducted with weapons. Now it’s through
social media.”
Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were the main
supporters of the Sudanese generals who seized power in April. The
Saudis and Emiratis offered $3 billion in aid while Egypt provided
diplomatic support.
Sudan’s vibrant social media space, though, has been harder to control.
Since the first protests against Mr. al-Bashir in December, protest
leaders have used the internet to mobilize demonstrations, to
circumvent official censorship and to attract support from global
celebrities like the pop star Rihanna.
Within hours of the massacre of civilians in Khartoum on June 3, the
military’s first act was to shut down the internet in Sudan. Then it
turned to social media to try and soften its harsh image.
Accounts run by Lt. Gen Mohamed Hamdan and his notorious Rapid Support
Forces paramilitary unit showed him cooking meals and addressing
rallies, highlighting his demands for higher teachers’ wages. Sudanese
activists petitioned Facebook to shut down those accounts, accusing
the company of giving a free platform to a potential war criminal.
Facebook declined to act because the Rapid Support Forces had become a
“state actor,” a Facebook press officer said. General Hamdan is now a
leading figure in the power-sharing government, which began taking
shape this week with the formation of a new cabinet.
In April, however, Facebook investigators started to scrutinize New
Waves as part of the tech giant’s global drive to shut down what it
calls “coordinated inauthentic behavior” on its platform.
Sudanese democracy advocates had also noticed something awry: a stream
of pro-military posts on Twitter written under false names, often
using photographs of prominent activists or musicians.
They identified the tweets as fake, they said, through Arabic language
tics that suggested they had been written by non-Sudanese.
For example, tweets rendered the word “Sudan” in the feminine, while
Sudanese write it in the masculine.
The New Waves operation had echoes of the Egyptian state’s approach to
controlling online debate. Under Mr. el-Sisi, Egypt has blocked over
500 websites and introduced laws that criminalize criticism of the
government on social media, which Mr. el-Sisi has described as a
threat to national security.
Online critics are frequently jailed in Egypt. On July 7, a dual
American-Egyptian citizen, Reem Mohamed Desouky, was arrested on
arrival at Cairo airport with her 13-year-old son. Officials
confiscated Ms. Desouky’s phone, scrolled through her Facebook posts
and charged her with using social media to undermine Egypt.
She is being held at Qanatir prison outside Cairo; her son has
returned to the United States.
Between 2015 and 2017, Mr. Hussein, the owner of New Waves, wrote a
column for al-Bawaba, a pro-military newspaper. Last fall he fronted a
public awareness campaign warning Egyptians of the dangers of social
media.
“From 2011 onward it’s been a war of social media,” Mr. Hussein said
in an interview with a pro-state television channel in which he cited
the Nazi dictum “the bigger the lie, the more people will believe it.”
Executives at New Waves and its Emirati sister company went to
considerable lengths to hide their role in the Middle East influence
campaign, Facebook said. They obtained fake accounts to administer
Facebook pages that purported to be news sites about nine countries,
including Sudan, Somalia, Kuwait and Libya.
The pages often featured genuine posts about real news or light
entertainment items like cartoons, interspersed with fake items that
followed a common theme.
The Sudan Alyoum (Sudan Today) Facebook page linked to a news website
of the same name that published 17 articles between this May and
August accusing the Muslim Brotherhood of conspiring to overthrow
Sudan’s Transitional Military Council, and 60 other articles
supporting General Hamdan’s leadership.
Facebook shared its findings with Twitter, which has taken down the
New Waves account. Twitter declined to comment except to say it had
removed several accounts related to Sudan.
In an interview in July, Mr. Hussein claimed New Waves had just one
client, a state-run theater production called Opera Bent Araby. He is
vocal about social media, he said, because Middle Eastern society is
“special.”
“I talk about the dangers not only in Egypt — in all our world,” he said.
Last Friday, Mr. Hussein declined to speak further. “I have nothing
for you,” he wrote in a text. “Please forget me.”

read more




10-JUN-2019 :: The "zeitgeist" of the Revolution in Khartoum was intoxicating.
Africa


The ‘’zeitgeist’’ of the Revolution in Khartoum was intoxicating. As I
watched events unfold it felt like Sudan was a portal into a whole new
normal.

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17-SEP-2012 "One of the defining bifurcations of the future will be the conflict between information masters and information victims."
Africa


Information warfare will not be couched in rationale of geopolitics,
the author suggests, but will be "spawned" - like any Hollywood drama
- out of raw emotions. "Hatred, jealousy, and greed - emotions, rather
than strategy - will set the terms of [information warfare] struggles"

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How Big Data - and lessons from Obama - swung Senegal's presidential election @mailandguardian
Africa


When a United States senator from Chicago decided to run for
president, one of his first volunteers was a student from Senegal.
They met at a campaign event. “Pleased to meet you, Oumar Ba,” said
the senator.  “I’m O-ba-ma.”
During the 2008 campaign, Ba knocked on more than a thousand doors,
collecting information from potential voters who would prove decisive
in Barack Obama’s victory.
That campaign was one of the first to harness the power of Big Data to
predict election results with uncanny accuracy and to micro-target
voters with individual messaging. Ba also worked on Obama’s 2012
campaign.
In 2018, Ba found himself working on another campaign, on another
continent. Although the context may have been different, the methods
were similar, and proved to be just as revolutionary.
A year before Senegal’s February 2019 presidential election, incumbent
Macky Sall recruited Ba to set up a data collection and analysis unit
for his campaign. The unit was top secret, based out of Ba’s home in
Dakar.
Some senior officials in Sall’s party, the Alliance for the Republic,
were unaware of the unit’s existence. Opposition parties had no idea.
With help from another former Obama staffer — Lex Paulson, a
strategist who also advised Emmanuel Macron’s campaign in France in
2017 — Ba recruited more than 4 630 volunteers to knock on doors in
every city, town and village in the country, covering each of
Senegal’s 552 counties.
The volunteers wore no party branding, because that may have scared
off people not interested in politics or sympathetic to the
opposition. They were not actively campaigning, according to Ba,
because to do so would have violated Senegalese election law, which
limits campaigning to just 20 days prior to the vote.
This relative anonymity led to some bizarre situations. “It happened
to us several times that we walked into a [party] leader’s house and
he was watching TV and he didn’t know it was us,” said Ba.
Instead of campaigning, the volunteers collected data: age, gender,
profession, location, political affiliation, preferred language,
religion, identity number, phone number.
They also asked potential voters what issues mattered the most to them
and what they looked for in a leader. Answers were written down on
paper, because early trials had shown that interviewees distrusted
electronic devices, and manually entered into a digital database.
It was not always easy. Sometimes the data collection volunteers got
tired, or lazy, and made up their own answers instead of bothering
with going from door to door.
These volunteers were swiftly axed by Ba. In other cases, the team had
to adapt their usual approach before anyone would speak to them.
“In some communities, if you come in with pants and a T-shirt, people
won’t listen to you. You have to wear your African outfit. In some
communities if you wear short pants people will put you out. In some
houses, you have to talk to the chief of the family first, you can’t
just talk to the lady,” Ba explained.
Ba’s unit recorded dozens of data points on 3.5-million people. At
Ba’s house, analysts crunched the numbers through sophisticated
algorithms, ultimately coming up with a unique campaign strategy for
each county.
In one, the president should promise to build a new road in a specific
location; in another, he should emphasise family values; in a third,
he shouldn’t bother because he was going to lose anyway.  “So you have
552 campaigns running against one opposition candidate,” said Ba.
Crucially, the president bought into the new approach, according to
Ba. “[Sall] is an engineer. He understands numbers, systems and
mechanisms. When you talk to him you better tell him things that are
right. He’ll check his notebook and make the calculation and tell you
if you’re right or wrong. He’s a man of data, a man of science and
he’s very young. He’s monitoring social media, he knows what’s
happening. And the data we were collecting was very consistent with
what he was getting.”
Data collection was phase one of Ba’s strategy. Phase two was to knock
on those same doors, to deliver feedback on the issues raised by
citizens.
This gave people a sense that they were being listened to, that their
opinion meant something. Generating that buy-in from potential voters
is more effective than any presidential speech.
As Ba explained: “If you visit Mohamed today, he talks to you about
how it’s important to clean up the neighbourhood because there are too
many crimes and so on.
Then you go out there and come back two weeks later, and say:
‘Mohamed, I think that’s what we are going to do, that’s a great
idea.’ Two weeks later, if Mohamed hears your candidate talking about
the same issue, Mohamed knows he has been listened to and he knows we
care.”
On February 24, Sall won a second term in office with a resounding
majority, receiving 2.5-million votes to 900 000 for his nearest
competitor.
It helped that two of his major opponents were barred from running
because of corruption convictions, which some critics have described
as politically motivated. Opposition parties also claimed the vote was
rigged, although the Constitutional Court gave it a clean bill of
health.
Ba said Sall didn’t need to rig the election. He had a secret weapon.
While the opposition was driving around in trucks, loudspeakers
blaring, dishing out T-shirts, the ruling party was building a
database of Senegalese citizens and a mechanism to communicate with
them at the level of individual households.
“The opposition was surprised because they didn’t see us coming, they
didn’t understand what was happening. And that explains why they
failed. Collective intelligence is a killer tool. You can make people
with it, or you can wreck people with it.”
Ba insists that the tool he has built will be used only for good. Now
that Sall’s re-election is complete, he is mobilising the same team of
volunteers to deliver better governance outcomes.
Its potential is revolutionary: suddenly, the president has a team of
people at his disposal who can reach every corner of the country
within a few hours. They can listen in person to citizens’ complaints
and can deliver feedback and government messaging directly into their
homes.
“There is a risk that countries that have the data and harness it will
jump forward, and those that don’t will permanently fall behind,” said
Murat Sönmez, who heads the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the
Fourth Industrial Revolution. Senegal, in other words, already has a
head start.
In this, Senegal may merely be prefiguring the shape of things to
come. It’s got a head start.
Yet the possibility that such a powerful tool can be misused cannot be
ruled out. “Data can be volatile. We don’t want it to be another curse
for the continent, like oil has been for a long time,” said Sylvia
Makario, the co-founder of Kigali-based Hepta Analytics.
In Kenya, for example, concerns that the government would abuse
citizens’ data have slowed the roll-out of Huduma Namba, which,
according to official statements, is “a central master population
database that will be the ‘single source of truth’ on a person’s
identity”.
 Concerned Kenyans, still reeling from disgraced consulting firm
Cambridge Analytica’s attempts to meddle in their 2017 poll, have
pointed out that there are precious few regulations protecting this
data, or preventing an unscrupulous ruling party from using it for
their own benefit.
And in Uganda, autocratic President Yoweri Museveni — in power for 33
years and counting — is so intrigued by the power of Big Data that he
recently requested that data specialists in the office of Kenya’s
deputy president, William Ruto, travel to Kampala to give his team a
crash course on the subject, said a senior Kenyan official.
Even in Senegal, with its relatively strong data protection laws — it
is one of only three African countries to sign up to the Council of
Europe’s Convention for the Protection of Individuals with Regard to
Automatic Processing of Personal Data — there are serious question
marks over the ability of the under-resourced data protection
authority to spot and nullify potential threats.
The former United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, once said:
“Knowledge is power.” As African politics moves decisively into the
era of Big Data, there is no doubt that he was right on that.
Elections in Senegal will never be the same again. Elections in Africa
will never be the same again. But Annan also said, at the same time,
that “information is liberating”. This is less certain. For now, we
simply don’t have enough data to be sure either way.

read more



02-JUL-2018 :: Ethiopia Rising. @TheStarKenya
Africa


On the same day he said, “we are in debt, we have to pay back but we
can’t. And secondarily, we aren’t able to finish projects we have
started” and announced his economic Pivot.
The Prime Minister needs to execute real quick on the economic front
but if he levels the playing Field, a whole Troop of folks will be
looking to pile in. That Troop will include the Ethiopian Diaspora,
Foreign Investors.

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Vassanji writes, "Babu (grandfather) of Loliondo... claims to cure all illnesses, including AIDS and cancer with his herbal potion....
Africa


Vassanji writes, "Babu (grandfather) of Loliondo… claims to cure all
illnesses, including AIDS and cancer with his herbal potion.…
Hundreds, if not thousands, go to see him every day in hired minibuses
from as far away as Nyeri in Kenya. The queues waiting for him are
claimed to be miles long."
http://bit.ly/2lDEQwa

After providing a history on magicians in East Africa, Vassanji
writes, "Babu (grandfather) of Loliondo… claims to cure all illnesses,
including AIDS and cancer with his herbal potion.… Hundreds, if not
thousands, go to see him every day in hired minibuses from as far away
as Nyeri in Kenya. The queues waiting for him are claimed to be miles
long."

read more





@knightfrank Kenya Economic Update @KnightFrankKE
Kenyan Economy


Cement production decreased to 1.46 million metric tonnes (MT) in the
first quarter of 2019, a 5.8% drop from 1.55 million MT over the same
period in 2018.
Similarly, cement consumption decreased to 1.46 million MT in the
first quarter of 2019, a 2.7% drop from 1.50 million MT over the same
period in 2018.
The value of building plans approved in Nairobi County decreased to
Ksh 48.54 billion in the first quarter of 2019, a 19.2% drop from Ksh
60.11 billion in a comparable period in 2018.
The continued decrease in cement production, consumption and the value
of building plans approved is indicative of a slowdown in the real
estate sector, which is mainly due to the current oversupply, low
transactions and the interest rate cap which has resulted in reduced
lending to the private sector.
Stanlib Fahari I-REIT’s unit price closed at Ksh 9.20 in June, which
was 54% lower than its initial listing price of Ksh 20.00. Home
Afrika’s share price closed in June at Ksh 0.62, which was 95% lower
than its initial listing price of Ksh 12.00
Kenya Mortgage Refinancing Corporation (KMRC), the country’s first
secondary mortgage financier that is expected to provide long term
funding to mortgage lenders for onward lending to low-income earners
at rates below 10% as opposed to the current rates of circa 13%.
The KMRC is 20% owned by the National Treasury and 80% by the private
sector, and supervised by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK). It will
also receive additional funding through international financers. The
World Bank in May approved a US$ 250 million affordable housing loan
for Kenyans who don’t have access to housing finance.
The World Bank’s Kenya Affordable Housing Finance Project (KAHFP) will
provide additional finance through the KMRC as well as support
operations of the institution. Pan- African financial institution
Shelter Afrique invested Ksh 200 million in KRMC in May.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) in June announced plans to
also invest into KRMC. IFC is interested in investing US$2 million in
equity, which will be transferred as common shares in KRMC.
The 2018/2019 Budget Statement issued in June announced measures
expected to impact the real estate sector such as raising the Capital
Gains Tax to 12.5% from the current rate of 5%. The move is expected
to further reduce the number of transactions in the sector which had
already declined because of the tight liquidity situation.
Rents for prime retail shops decreased by approximately 5.9% to US$
4.8 per square foot per month in the first half of 2019, while service
charges across retail malls in Kenya ranged from Ksh 45 to Ksh 60/sq
ft/month.
The decline in rentals is mainly attributed to the current economic
situation and less money in circulation, resulting in reduced spending
by consumers.
Additionally, oversupply of retail space in certain locations has
resulted in pressure on landlords to provide concessions and other
incentives to attract new or retain existing tenants, making the
sub-sector a tenants’ market.
Over the review period, occupancy levels for established malls
remained high at 90%. New retail centres recorded occupancy levels of
between 45% and 55%.
From a development perspective, the unprecedented supply of formal
retail space in 2017 means that developers are still reeling from the
aftershocks of oversupply in the form of longer letting periods for
new developments.
The oversupply, coupled with other market disruptions such as
e-commerce, has resulted in a tenants’ market with a downward pressure
on rentals especially in certain neighbourhoods where the supply is
not supported by robust catchment areas.
Prime residential sale prices in Nairobi decreased by 1.8% over the
first half of 2019 compared to a decline of 0.4% in the first half of
2018, pushing the annual decline to 6.7% in the year to June. Prime
residential rents also declined over the review period by 1.68%
compared to 0.33% over a similar period in 2018, taking the annual
decline to 3.3% in the year to June.
The decline in both prime residential sale and rental prices is mainly
attributed to the continued oversupply of residential developments in
certain locations such as Karen and the ongoing credit crunch which
has resulted in reduced money circulation.
These factors have transformed the market in favour of buyers and
tenants, even as some multinationals continue to downsize while fewer
expatriates are relocating to Kenya, impacting negatively on the niche
market.
Major hotel developments in the pipeline include the Radisson Blu
Hotel and Apartments in Arboretum by Carlson Rezidor; The Alba Hotel
in Lavington Nairobi and Azure Best Western at Signature Mall, both
part of Best Western’s Collection; and JW Marriott at GTC and Protea
Hotel by Marriott Nairobi, which will be located near the JKIA.
Pullman Hotel, which is part of French hospitality chain Accor, was
expected to open in 2018 but this was in April pushed to the second
half of 2019 and blamed on delayed construction works. Other hotels
under the same hospitality chain in Nairobi include Ibis hotel,
Mövenpick Hotels and Resorts and the Fairmont Norfolk.
The Fairmont Mara Safari Club in Narok County and Fairmount Mount
Kenya Safari Club in Nanyuki also form part of the hospitality chain.

read more


Stanlib Fahari I-REIT's unit price closed at Ksh 9.20 in June, which was 54% lower than its initial listing price of Ksh 20.00 @knightfrank share price data
Kenyan Economy


Closing Price:           7.80
Total Shares Issued:          180972300.00
Market Capitalization:        1,411,583,940
EPS:             0.83
PE:                 9.398

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Home Afrika's share price closed in June at Ksh 0.62, which was 95% lower than its initial listing price of Ksh 12.00 @knightfrank share price data
Kenyan Economy


Closing Price:           0.53
Total Shares Issued:          405255320.00
Market Capitalization:        214,785,320
EPS:             -0.68
PE:                 -0.779

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Nairobi All Share Bloomberg
Kenyan Economy


Nairobi ^NSE20 Bloomberg

http://j.mp/ajuMHJ

Every Listed Share can be interrogated here

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by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
 
 
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September 2019
 
 
 
 
 
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