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12-SEP-2016 :: Mirrors on the ceiling, The pink champagne on ice @TheStarKenya
Mirrors on the ceiling,
The pink champagne on ice
And she said “We are all just prisoners here, of our own device” Last
thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
“Relax,” said the night man,
“We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave! “
What is clear is that we are at the fag-end of this party.
Fort Jesus, Mombasa
The Fort, built by the Portuguese in 1593-1596 to the designs of
Giovanni Battista Cairati to protect the port of Mombasa, is one of
the most outstanding and well preserved examples of 16th Portuguese
military fortification and a landmark in the history of this type of
construction. The Fort's layout and form reflected the Renaissance
ideal that perfect proportions and geometric harmony are to be found
in the human body. The property covers an area of 2.36 hectares and
includes the fort's moat and immediate surroundings.
Network - Money speech @YouTube
You have meddled with the primary forces of nature, Mr Beale, and I
won't have it! Is that clear?
You think you merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case.
The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now
they must put it back! It is ebb and flow, tide and gravity. It is
You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There
are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are
no Arabs. There are no Third Worlds. There is no West. There is only
one holistic system of systems. One vast and immane, interwoven,
interacting, multi-varied, multi-national dominion of dollars.
Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rands,
rubles, pounds and shekels.
It is the international system of currency which determines the
totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things
today. That is the atomic, and sub-atomic and galactic structure of
And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature. And you will atone.
Am I getting through to you, Mr Beale?
You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about
America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy.
There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide and
Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today.
What do you think the Russians talk about in their Councils of State?
Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical
decision theories, mini-max solutions, and compute the price-cost
probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do.
We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr Beale. The
world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the
immutable bye-laws of of business. The world is a business, Mr Beale.
It has been since man crawled out of the slime.
And our children will live, Mr Beale, to see that ... perfect ...
world in which there is no war nor famine, oppression or brutality.
One vast and ecumenical holding company for whom all men will work to
serve a common profit. In which all men will hold a share of stock.
All necessities provided. All anxieties tranquilized. All boredom amused.
Code hidden in Stone Age art may be the root of human writing New Scientist
When she first saw the necklace, Genevieve von Petzinger feared the
trip halfway around the globe to the French village of Les
Eyzies-de-Tayac had been in vain. The dozens of ancient deer teeth
laid out before her, each one pierced like a bead, looked roughly the
same. It was only when she flipped one over that the hairs on the back
of her neck stood up. On the reverse were three etched symbols: a
line, an X and another line.
Von Petzinger, a palaeoanthropologist from the University of Victoria
in Canada, is spearheading an unusual study of cave art. Her interest
lies not in the breathtaking paintings of bulls, horses and bison that
usually spring to mind, but in the smaller, geometric symbols
frequently found alongside them. Her work has convinced her that far
from being random doodles, the simple shapes represent a fundamental
shift in our ancestors’ mental skills.
The first formal writing system that we know of is the 5000-year-old
cuneiform script of the ancient city of Uruk in what is now Iraq. But
it and other systems like it – such as Egyptian hieroglyphs – are
complex and didn’t emerge from a vacuum. There must have been an
earlier time when people first started playing with simple abstract
signs. For years, von Petzinger has wondered if the circles, triangles
and squiggles that humans began leaving on cave walls 40,000 years ago
represent that special time in our history – the creation of the first
Donald Trump and Barack Obama meet at White House BBC
Law & Politics
US President-elect Donald Trump has said it was a "great honour" to
meet President Barack Obama for transition talks at the White House.
Mr Obama said he was "encouraged" by their "excellent" and
"wide-ranging" conversation, lasting over an hour.
President Elect Trump started his Pivot with his victory speech. I
think he is going to surprise to the upside, in fact.
Trump It must now be acknowledged, however, that he is the greatest political entrepreneur of our time
Law & Politics
Donald J. Trump’s long, triumphant march to the White House didn’t
start on 16 June 2015, when he announced his candidacy at the Trump
Tower in Manhattan. It began four years ago, on 19 November 2012. On
that day, days after President Barack Obama had defeated Mitt Romney,
Trump filed a trademark application for the slogan ‘Make America Great
Again’. It was, like all things Trump, a bit of a rip-off. Ronald
Reagan’s successful presidential campaign of 1980 had coined the
phrase. But Make America Great Again was even more potent in 2015-16.
After the crash, those four words spoke powerfully to the anguished
spirit of America: to the nation’s nostalgia for the Reagan era, and
to its insatiable longing to fix itself.
Whenever the Trump campaign floundered, the candidate and his
spokesmen could fall back on that hypnotic incantation: Make America
Great Again. Just like ‘Yes we can’, Barack Obama’s campaign hymn of
2008, Trump’s Maga mantra worked. Three weeks ago, commentators were
chortling at reports that Team Trump spent more on its Make America
Great Again baseball caps than on professional polling. How amateur!
Well, who’s laughing now? Those silly red hats proved to be a PR
masterstroke. While the snobs were sneering, Donald Trump was creating
a movement that would take over America.
But psephologists have been so eager to look towards the diverse
American future that they seemed to ignore the 70 per cent of the
American electorate that remains white.
Trump has shown a genius for snarling at people in a way that
Americans like. The names he gave his opponents — Crooked Hillary,
Lyin’ Ted, Little Marco, ‘Low-energy’ Jeb — were devastatingly catchy.
But his real talent was his ability to tell America that it was a
loser and the country was a wreck. ‘We don’t have victories any more —
we used to,’ he moaned at his campaign launch. ‘The US has become a
dumping ground for every-body else’s problems.’
Markets are prisoner of the populist rhetoric @Thestarkenya
Law & Politics
US President-elect Donald Trump certainly upended pollsters, pundits
and the entire media echo chamber, not unlike the Brexit vote. In
fact, 24 hours before the presidential vote and the Brexit vote, both
outcomes were at four to one – a 20 per cent probability. This new
populist Zeitgeist has legs and Marine Le Pen and Frexit, Italexit all
look much more likely than ever before. What is clear is that the
Internet has been a significant disruptor allowing populist
politicians to go over the top.
The narrative is no longer controlled, it’s being written as we speak
and it’s being written by the likes of Trump and UK Independence Party
Nigel Farage. We are now at an inflexion point and its plain to see.
The markets are having to adjust to a new normal, which is very
unpredictable. It is this unpredictability which is surging volatility
in financial assets. The immediate reaction to the Trump news was a
big flight into what are perceived as Safe Haven Assets. Gold, the yen
and the Euro rallied sharply as investors looked for a safe harbour.
The Dow Jones suffered its biggest one day loss, and that was even
before it opened for trading. The Mexico Peso which has exhibited a
near 100 per cent inverse correlation to a Trump win got smashed more
than 10 per cent. The markets are now a prisoner of the populist
rhetoric and I would have thought this new trend accelerates.
Africa was not mentioned once in the three presidential debates, and
it hopes to maintain President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief
(PEPFAR) and more recent Obama gains such as AGOA and Power Africa. I
have to expect a scaling back of US economic support for Africa. I
surmise that economic support gets downshifted and Africom and its
counter-terrorism agenda upshifted.
President-elect Trump will surely reset the geopolitical world order –
he has already spoken of being able to get along with President Putin
of Russia and the Baltic states, and Ukraine’s Poroshenko will be
worried that they might well be thrown under a bus. The geopolitical
grandmaster Putin is a very big winner. The ‘’rebels’’ in Syria who
interestingly are not Syrian will surely be extinguished in a foreign
land, and President Assad has outlasted another American president.
With respect to the economic order, it is also clear that Trump was
carried to the White House on a wave of anti-globalisation. He will
surely continue to surf that wave and this will place enormous
pressure on global trade. Trump will surely be an America-first
champion. Mexico is at the bleeding edge, and that’s why we saw such
an outsize move in the Peso.
Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow. Photographer: Alexey Druzhinin/AFP via Getty Images
Law & Politics
Russia said it was in contact with President-elect Donald Trump’s team
during the U.S. election campaign, despite repeated denials by the
Republican candidate’s advisers that any links existed.
“There were contacts” before the election, Russian Deputy Foreign
Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Thursday, according to the Interfax news
service. “We continue this work of course,” he said, without giving
details of what the contacts were.
Russian embassy staff met with members of Trump’s campaign, which is
“normal practice,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told
Bloomberg. Democratic Party contender Hillary Clinton’s campaign
refused similar requests for meetings, she said.
Global food prices on a sugar and dairy high FT
The food price index published by the UN Food and Agricultural
Organisation (FAO) rose 9.1 per cent last month from the same time
last year and 0.7 per cent from September.
Abdolreza Abbassian, senior economist at the FAO, said that the
potential for further price increases was limited because of the good
supply prospects. But he added: “Exchange rate fluctuations and
uncertainties in financial markets in the aftermath of the US
presidential election may well become a defining factor for many
months to come.”
October’s rise was driven primarily by jumps in sugar and dairy
prices. Sugar rose 3.4 per cent in October amid reports of production
shortfalls in Brazil’s key sugar growing region and India’s
Dairy rose 3.9 per cent from September, led by cheese and butter
markets, thanks to demand in the EU. Cereals were also higher, due to
firm wheat prices, largely driven by tightening supplies of high
quality wheat, while corn was also higher on the back of exports by
Meat prices, however, fell, dropping 1 per cent in October, driven by
weaker demand for European pork from importers in China.
Overall food prices are rising despite record grain harvests in the
northern hemisphere. Sugar, meat, dairy and vegetable oils are among
the sectors where markets have firmed over the past year.
DONALD TRUMP AND SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA: WHAT WILL CHANGE WITH NEW U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT? Newsweek
Africa featured not at all in the presidential campaign except with
slight reference to jihadi radicalism—and even that was centered on
Libya, not part of sub-Saharan Africa. U.S. trade ties mostly involve
importing African primary products, especially petroleum and minerals,
and limited investment in “frontier” markets. There is a concessionary
trade agreement between the United States and Africa, the African
Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), but it was recently renewed and has
little consequence for the U.S. economy. The U.S. does have assistance
programs in Africa, notably in health and girl-child education. And
the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is an
important legacy of the previous Republican president, George W. Bush.
There is also a security relationship with a few African countries,
notably Kenya and Djibouti, but they are small.
WHAT WILL A TRUMP PRESIDENCY MEAN FOR THE CONGO (AND AFRICA)?
The Kabila administration is not known for quick reactions––it can
take them days or even weeks to react publicly to massacres in the
eastern Congo, for example.This morning, however, just hours after
Trump made his victory speech, President Kabila wrote to congratulate
him on “his brilliant election.”
What will the consequence of Trump’s election be for the Congo? Is
Kabila right to celebrate?
Yes, he is. While there has been bipartisan support in the US Congress
for playing hardball with the Congolese government, there is no doubt
that the impetus has come from the Obama administration, and from the
Office of the Special Envoy to the Great Lakes, in particular. That
office will shut down in around six weeks, and it is highly unlikely
that a Trump administration will keep the office open. There will
probably be a rush now to push through more sanctions against
Congolese officials––Kalev Mutond (head of civilian intelligence) and
Evariste Boshab (minister of interior) would be the highest-ranking
targets they could go after.
To be clear: it is not that Donald Trump would be a great friend to
President Kabila. It is simply that a Trump administration is unlikely
to (a) think the Congo (or Africa, for that matter) is much of a
priority; and (b) they will be hard-pressed to find people who know
much about the continent. Many academic and policy-wonks who deal with
Africa are Democrats, and many of the Republican ones repudiated Trump
(e.g. Jendayi Frazier, Chester Crocker). This will give Kabila space
What does a Trump presidency mean for Africa in general?
Potential economic decline. If Trump really does impose a 45% tariff
on imports from China, it will further slow down growth in that
economy, which is likely to accentuate the slump in the world’s
commodity markets. That will adversely affect the commodity-dependent
African economies (Nigeria, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan, South
Sudan, Chad, Zambia, Congo-Brazza––and yes, DR Congo).
Decline in aid. Like so many areas of policy, we really have no idea
what Trump will do with the foreign aid budget. Looking at some of the
people likely to get jobs in foreign policy, we might see a decrease
in aid, funding for the United Nations, and an end to the African
Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the Electrify Africa Act. Newt
Gingrich, who has been mentioned as a possible Secretary of State, has
said: “After several years of looking at the UN, I can report to you
that it is sufficiently corrupt and sufficiently inefficient. That no
reasonable person would put faith in it.” John Bolton, another Trump
ally, has famously said the UN could do without its ten top floors.
[Fun fact: Gingrich wrote his PhD on Belgian educational policy in the
Continued militarization. Trump is not a humanitarian interventionist,
but he has said he will “bomb the shit out of ISIS.” So he would be
likely to continue supporting counterterrorism operations in the Sahel
and Somalia. On the flipside, given his admiration for Putin’s Russia,
it is difficult to imagine much staunch support for democracy on the
Some have argued that this might be good for the continent, as a more
isolationist America will force these countries to path their own
ways. I find it hard to be so sanguine. First, as I state above, I
don’t think the US with withdraw, it will just be influenced more by
realpolitik and less by lofty ideals. And I don’t think an aggressive
push for private investment––without greater transparency and scrutiny
of fiscal paradises––and greater military involvement in Africa is the
way to go. Let alone more sinister policies––after all, Paul Manafort,
who was Trump’s campaign chairman for several months, was a lobbyist
for Mobutu and Savimbi in the 1980s. Secondly, a decline in support to
the UN and the AU will undermine much-needed multilateral diplomacy
and peace-building on the continent. Lastly, while I fully agree that
countries need to chart their own paths, in some cases the United
States can play a critical role staving off crises and opening up
space that can allow that to happen. The Congo is currently a case in
point: an authoritarian drift could erode the gains the country has
made over the past decade and preclude any genuine domestic dialogue
Demonstrations Banned, Media Restricted in Congo HRW
Congolese authorities are taking increasingly aggressive measures to
stifle the political opposition, blocking radio signals and
surrounding the home of the opposition leader ahead of planned
protests this past weekend.
Early Saturday morning, ahead of public meetings in cities throughout
the Democratic Republic of Congo, authorities cut the signal for Radio
France International (RFI) in Kinshasa and the southern city of
Lubumbashi, and jammed the signal for the United Nations-supported
Radio Okapi. RFI was allowed back on the air in Lubumbashi on
Saturday, but it’s still blocked in Kinshasa, and Radio Okapi also
remains jammed in parts of Kinshasa – for the fourth day in a row.
These developments come less than six weeks before the December 19
deadline for when President Joseph Kabila is due to step down at the
end of his constitutionally mandated two-term limit.
Nigerian security agents raid black market FX dealers to stop slide of naira @ReutersAfrica
Nigerian security agents raided the offices of black market currency
dealers on Thursday, detaining some dealers and ordering others to
sell dollars at a lower rate in a bid to break the fall of the
currency, dealers said.
The central bank has been unable to stop the naira's slide on the
black market, where importers go to buy dollars due to severe hard
currency shortages in Africa's biggest economy.
The bank has kept the official naira rate to the dollar artificially
high, effectively driving hard currency dealing away from commercial
lenders and towards the black market, the real benchmark.
"The police and state security service officials are raiding black
marketers in Lagos and Abuja to compel an appreciation of the naira,"
Mallam Adamu, a bureau de change operator, told Reuters.
Another trader said security agents visiting bureau de change
operators told dealers not to sell dollars for more than 395 naira.
The Lagos police had no immediate comment.
A source at the central bank declined to comment on the raids, saying
only that the bank was concerned about the spread between the official
and parallel market rate.
The currency is changing hands at 460 naira per dollar on the black
market, in contrast to the official rate of 305.5. The naira had
regained some ground this week after dropping earlier from 470, but
dealers said hard currency supplies were limited.
"We've stopped buying dollars from just anybody that walks into our
shop due to the harassment from security agents and a directive from
our association," said a dealer, asking not to be named.
Dealers who trade at an exchange rate weaker than 400 naira per dollar face arrest and prosecution from the State Security Service
Dealers who trade at an exchange rate weaker than 400 naira per dollar
face arrest and prosecution from the State Security Service, according
to Aminu Gwadabe, president of the Association of Bureau de Change
Operators of Nigeria. Foreign-exchange bureaus agreed to “to control
the market so we will have sanity” and they have the “backing” of the
central bank on the new rates, he said by phone from Lagos, the
The naira strengthened to around 400 per dollar on the black market
from 460 on Thursday, Gwadabe said.
The Trade is to go limit short the Naira at 400.00 on the Bureau de
Nigeria cannot keep this up any more. Its dysfunctional and its not
going to work and that Tsunami I spoke about is a whole lot closer and
the President and Emefiele are c21st King Canutes
Kenya Gleams on Africa's Bright Side @bv
There’s been nothing but trouble for much of Africa as the price of
oil plummeted 55 percent during the past two and a half years. But
there’s a brighter side to the sub-Saharan continent. Unlike Nigeria,
where oil accounts for more than 90 percent of exports, or South
Africa, which never recovered from the 2008 financial crisis amid weak
global demand for commodities, Kenya, the No. 3 economy measured by
gross domestic product, is turning the oil debacle into a bonanza.
That’s because Kenya, like its East African neighbors Ethiopia and
Tanzania, is making lower energy prices a relative strength. Kenya’s
refined petroleum products almost tripled to 12 percent of exports
from 4.5 percent in 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Agriculture, including tea, flowers, coffee and legumes, still
represents the biggest share at more than 30 percent. Refined
petroleum and related exports, meanwhile, have become the
fastest-growing and second-largest share of what the country sells
outside its borders.
There’s no indication that the global slump in energy and commodities,
which afflicted the biggest economies, is letting up. Nigeria’s growth
rate slumped to 2.7 percent in 2015 from 11.3 percent in 2010 and
South Africa gained just 1.3 percent of GDP after only slightly better
growth during the five-year period. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg
predict that South Africa’s economy will gain only 0.4 percent, while
Nigeria’s GDP declines 0.5 percent in 2016 before growing 2.9 percent
and 3.7 percent in the next two years, according to the Bloomberg
In contrast, Kenya’s $65 billion economy expanded 5.7 percent last
year and is forecast to grow an average of 6 percent between 2016 and
2018. Investors, meanwhile, have made the country’s stock market the
darling of the continent. The 67 companies in the Nairobi Securities
Exchange Ltd. All Share Index produced a total return (income and
appreciation) of 5.4 percent during the past 12 months. By comparison,
the 93 companies from 18 countries in the MSCI Frontier Market 100 Net
Index were little changed measured in U.S. dollars, according to data
compiled by Bloomberg.
During the past two years, investors were paying an average 27 percent
premium to buy stocks in Kenya compared to comparable frontier market
shares on a price-to-earnings basis. The premium disappeared when
their price-to-earnings ratios converged, which created an opportunity
for profit in Kenya equities -- most likely because earnings for
companies in Kenya increased faster than the appreciation of the
shares, according to Bloomberg data.
There’s a similar advantage with Kenya shares compared to those in
emerging markets, which have more advanced economies than Kenya and
other frontier markets. Investors are buying Nairobi stocks with a 23
percent discount relative to emerging market shares, on a
price-to-earnings basis. Two years ago, they were buying the same
assets with a 38 percent premium, another reflection of the potential
profit of investing in Kenya.
Three of the four best-performing stocks in Kenya this year are
directly correlated to the economy’s relatively robust expansion:
airlines, telecom and publishing. Kenya Airways Ltd. produced a 36.7
percent total return so far this year, the best in the Nairobi index,
amid rising passenger traffic. Safaricom Ltd., Kenya's biggest
telecommunications company, advanced 31.4 percent, and Longhorn
Publishers Ltd., a provider of education materials, gained 29.2
Investors also have taken comfort in the stability of the Kenyan
shilling, which remains the least volatile of the eight most-traded
African currencies and among the continent’s best performers.
Despite the Kenya boom, life in the country still is perceived as
treacherous. About 70 percent of the country’s 47 million people are
afraid the country will experience violence during elections scheduled
for August 2017, according to a survey by the non-profit Twaweza East
Africa. While such fear persists, continued growth is raising the
standard of living as measured by GDP per capita. Since 2000, Kenya’s
percentage of the population older than 65 years climbed to 2.9
percent from 2.6. At the same time, people under the age of 15
declined to 40.9 percent from 42.4, according to Bloomberg data.
08-FEB-2016 :: Kenya and East Africa on The Up as The Rest of SSA Slumps @TheStarKenya
For a while, I have been saying that Kenya and East Africa looks like
a bright star in what increasingly looks like a darkening sub-Saharan
The shilling has been ‘Teflon’ since October and its performance is a
signal in the noise. With the exception of South Sudan [its going to
take decades for this leadership to get it] and Burundi [where the
African Union blinked], this region is shining bright. Kenya is
expected to post a six per cent GDP handle in 2016, Tanzania a seven
per cent, Uganda around five per cent, Ethiopia [even with a drought
that has scorched farmlands] probably eight per cent and the DR Congo
[where the more intrepid Kenyan corporates are stealing a March]
somewhere around nine per cent.
I have already mentioned the trend change in the perennial current
account deficit. “Between 2011 and 2015, Kenya’s annual fossil fuel
import bill was running at about Sh350bn ($3.4bn at the current
exchange rate). With oil at $30 a barrel, this could drop to Sh115bn
in 2016, according to calculations by Robertson, based on central bank
The shilling has been one of the least volatile currencies anywhere in the world in 2016 @dailynation
“I think Kenya is a safe haven. The shilling has been one of the least
volatile currencies anywhere in the world in 2016, especially when you
compare it with sub-Saharan Africa peers,” said Aly Khan Satchu, the
CEO of investment advisory firm Rich Management.
Mr Satchu said he expects domestic factors to play a bigger role in
how the shilling behaves going forward – citing Kenya’s own elections
next August as one such event.
This year, the shilling has appreciated by 0.6 per cent to the dollar,
in comparison to the Uganda shilling that is down by 3.6 per cent and
the Tanzania shilling, which shed 1.5 per cent of its value to the
A higher risk lies on the macro-economic side, especially in trade
where Mr Trump has promised to renegotiate nearly all trade deals the
US has with various countries and trading blocs around the world.
“We might see the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) diluted
and what was a serious US engagement with Africa slow down,” said Mr
This would have longer term repercussions on currencies, including the
shilling, while the promised tougher immigration rules in the US would
possibly affect growth in diaspora remittances that have provided a
sizeable share of forex inflows for Kenya and other African countries.
“Another area for concern for emerging/frontier economies under a
Trump win is that it will put greater long-term pressure on
immigration to and remittance growth from the US,” said UK based
investment bank Exotix Partners in a brief following the US election.