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The Tyger BY WILLIAM BLAKE
Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!
When the stars threw down their spears
And water'd heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
Some facts. @benabyad
Law & Politics
The Gaza Strip is occupied, & Israel is the occupying power.
Israel's blockade of Gaza is illegal collective punishment.
Majority of Palestinian population in Gaza Strip is under-18.
& most are from communities ethnically cleansed by Israel in 1948.
All S-400 parts on order reportedly delivered to China @asiatimesonline
Law & Politics
Russia may have just finished shipping its ace S-400 Triumf
self-propelled anti-aircraft systems to China, after three Russian
vessels carrying what were believed to be S-400 regimental core
components including a control station, radars, fuel, launch-silo
parts and other auxiliary equipment sailed into an unspecified Chinese
port last month, according to Russian news agency TASS.
Other than bringing the entire island of Taiwan well within range when
launched from the coast of the Taiwan-facing province of Fujian over a
strait of 130km at its narrowest, missiles from the S-400 system
launched from the northern province of Shandong could also shoot down
planes near the Diaoyu Islands – an atoll in the East China Sea that
is at the center of a bitter territorial row between Beijing and
Tokyo, which calls them the Senkaku Islands – provided that China is
able to acquire the very-long-range 40N6 missiles of the system from
28-AUG-2017 :: China Rising
Law & Politics
Apart from a few half-hearted and timid FONOPs [freedom of navigation
operations], China has established control over the South China Sea.
It has created artificial Islands and then militarised those
artificial islands across the South China Sea. It is a mind-boggling
geopolitical advance any which way you care to cut it.
Geopolitics of Trump's Exit from Iran Deal
Law & Politics
The US President Donald Trump’s decision on pullout from the 2015 Iran
nuclear pact significantly impacts the tectonic plates of world
politics. At the most profound level, the weakening of the US’
trans-Atlantic leadership that has been under way may have become
Without doubt, the European capitals are in turn angry and
disappointed. The support for the 2015 pact runs deep in Europe and
the disillusionment with the Trump presidency is widespread in the
European opinion. In principle, a “regime change” in Washington in the
2020 poll may somewhat improve matters but then, two years is a long
time in politics during which the divide between the US and Europe may
further deepen and a new alchemy may radically transform
Euro-Atlanticism as such with the growing perception of the US as an
unreliable and increasingly malevolent partner.
The European corporations are being forced in the coming six months to
decide whether they wished to continue doing business with the US, or
whether they would choose to continue to pursue the commercial
opportunities in Iran. Europe will resist any US attempt to punish
European companies. Importantly, Europe’s search for payment
mechanisms that bypass American banks will gather momentum.
But these are early days and any apocalyptic predictions of a crack in
the western alliance as such will be far too premature. To be sure,
the Trump administration has initiated damage control. Trump
telephoned British Prime Minister Theresa May to coordinate efforts to
build up Western opinion on “Iran’s destabilizing behavior,” pegging
the campaign on “the Iranian regime’s provocative rocket attacks from
Syria against Israeli citizens.”
Britain is playing its traditional role as Washington’s gatekeeper in
Europe by helping to moderate the French and German condemnation of
Trump’s abandonment of Iran deal. The newly-appointed Under Secretary
of State for Arms Control and International Security Andrea L.
Thompson is heading for Paris and London on May 14-18 where she is
expected to hold bilateral discussions “on a range of arms control and
nonproliferation issues.” Thompson used to be the national security
advisor to Vice-President Mike Pence and had previously served as
special advisor at the State Department’s Office of Policy Planning.
In her new portfolio, Thompson, a retired colonel, is in charge of
arms control and international security.
Trump doesn’t seem to think that withdrawal from the 2015 agreement
spells the end of all diplomatic options – for the US or for other
players (including, perhaps, for Tehran too.) A buffer period of six
months lies ahead before Trump would have to make some major
downstream decisions. Conceivably, this buffer period may even be his
negotiating period. Trump’s Art of the Deal may still provide for a
“negotiating process” with Tehran. The coming six-month buffer period
would be a critical maneuvering time for all protagonists.
Therefore, there is no reason to anticipate an inevitable expansion of
conflict in the Persian Gulf as of now. Trump’s move gives the GCC
states and Israel some time to re-group. Israel and Saudi Arabia have
welcomed the Trump decision. But in meaningful terms, what benefit
would accrue to them remains doubtful. Put differently, Israel and
Saudi Arabia will be pushing the US to resort to the use of force
against Iran sooner rather than later – especially, if the nuclear
deal completely collapses and Tehran steps up the enrichment program.
Saudi Arabia and Israel probably hoped to rebuild strategic
credibility in the hope that Iran will be constrained by sanctions to
reduce its regional military and proxy warfare missions. But on the
contrary, the high probability is that Iran, which now feels
“liberated” from the seductive lure of the opening to the US and West,
may even expand its power projection, given that it now has less
reason for constraint.
The plain truth is that new US sanctions would not seriously
jeopardize the Iranian economy. Much depends on Iran’s ability to sell
oil on the world market. But then, one-third of Iran’s oil exports go
to China and it is inconceivable that Beijing will cooperate with the
US sanctions against Iran. On the whole, sales to Iran from China and
Russia would be unaffected by the U.S. sanctions. The sanctions would
almost certainly hasten the denomination of Iranian transactions with
foreign suppliers in non-dollar currencies – especially, in
yuan/renminbi and Russian rubles.
Considering that Saudi Arabia too is moving toward some denomination
of oil sales in renminbi, the era of total domination of the energy
market in dollars — petrodollars — is drawing to a close after almost
a half-century of total domination of the global economy by the US
dollar as the universal reserve currency. Washington may put a brave
face on this tectonic shift in the international financial system, but
there is a serious erosion of the US influence on global markets
getting under way.
Ironically, in the near-term in the Middle East, it is possible that
Trump’s decision allows Iran greater latitude in developing its
strategic capabilities. Iran would probably stay in the 2015 pact with
the other parties to the agreement but, paradoxically, the deal no
longer holds the same charm for Tehran as before, without Washington
being party to it. In a manner of speaking, Tehran would feel
“unshackled.” Lest it be forgotten, Iran’s elite had agreed in the
first instance to curtail what had been a rapidly growing capability
to create large quantities of fissile materials, in lieu of a
constructive engagement with the US.
Indeed, the 2015 pact gave a window of opportunity for the US also to
reclaim influence in Iran by beginning a process of normalization. But
Washington was disinterested, and arguably, Tehran too failed to take
full advantage. Now, it is the historic turn for Russia, China and
Turkey to move quickly to fill the vacuum created by the new US
sanctions regime. While it is too early to speak of a political
alignment, the events are on the one hand pushing together Iran,
Russia, and Turkey, while on the other hand putting the European Union
and Russia on the same side. Indeed, if US-Iranians tensions escalate,
Russia may find itself in an unenviable position to mediate
de-escalation. Currently, though, the events are pushing together
Iran, Russia, and Turkey, which have had problematic mutual relations.
14-MAY-2018 :: That makes Africa look more like Italy than China via Economist
SSA Governments have tapped the Eurobond markets for more than $15b so
far this year, which is a record haul for any year ever and its not
even June. The IMF in its latest Africa update judged 6 countries to
be in debt distress; Chad, Eritrea, Mozambique [they have lashings and
lashings of Natural Gas which means there is a Pathway out of this],
Congo Republic, South Sudan and Zimbabwe [There is sufficient goodwill
for Zimbabwe to exit this position]. Interestingly, the IMF's ratings
for Zambia and Ethiopia were changed from moderate to "high risk of
debt distress." In Zambia's case, Eurobond yields are nudging double
digits and President Lungu is resisting the only option that is really
available, which is the IMF.
During the IMF's Release, its Africa Head said “The question I ask is
why isn’t a country growing at 6 or 7%?”
Faster Growth is a Panacea. In fact after growing just 1.4% in 2016 [a
more than 20 Year Low GDP Print] the IMF is projecting growth across
sub-Saharan Africa of 3.4% this year. SSA aggregate figures are driven
by the Big 3 Economies of South Africa [about which I am constructive
because of the swing from a scenario of vicious Zuma discount to a
Ramaphoria premium], Nigeria and Angola. All 3 Countries are bouncing
off the bottom. The Proof of the Pudding will be in the Eating,
however, and the sustainability of the rebound. The IMF expects that
income per person will shrink in all three in 2018, for the fourth
consecutive year. That means the Average Individual is empirically
worse off for the 4th consecutive year. The Economist correctly
''There is reason to worry, then, when the IMF says that regional
growth will hover below 4% for the next few years. Since populations
are rising, income per person will creep up by barely 1% a year. That
makes Africa look more like Italy than China. Better keep praying''
The Daily Maverick cites Nigeria as an example
''For example, Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is home to almost
200 million people. Its population is growing at 2.61% per year, with
a median age of 18. But Nigeria’s economy is set to grow by just 2% in
2018. The implications of this are nothing short of disastrous''
Bloomberg's annual Misery Index places six African countries in its
top 10 most miserable countries globally in 2018.
Last week, when Delegates were asked at a @MoodysInvSvc conference in
Lagos [via Bloomberg's Paul Wallace] what they thought were the
biggest risks for African borrowers. They were not worried about
external shocks so much as homegrown ones.
Africa has fully loaded the balance sheet. Notwithstanding a record
breaking Eurobond raise in 2018, Its as plain as day that the current
scenario is a little like Argentina's Century Bond moment, a last
Hurrah! African Governments need to improve their ROI because Envelope
space could evaporate momentarily and in a blink of any eye.
In Ethiopia's bushlands, promised riches of a railway boom turn to dust @guardian
Ethiopia’s new £2.5bn, 750km (466-mile) line began commercial
operations at the start of the year, making it Africa’s first fully
electrified cross-border railway. Built and financed by Chinese
investors and contractors, and shadowing the route of an earlier
French-built track, the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway lies at the heart
of Ethiopia’s development aspirations. By linking the landlocked
country to the sea and lowering transport costs for imports and
exports, the government hopes to kickstart industrialisation and
transform a poor, agricultural nation of nearly 100 million people
into a middle-income one by as early as 2025.
And it is much more than that. “The railway project is a transport
project,” explains Dr Getachew Betru, former chief executive of the
state-owned Ethiopia Railways Corporation (ERC). “But it is also a
hinterland development project.” The plan is for eight railways to
eventually crisscross this vast, diverse land, knitting together the
relatively fertile highlands with the historically neglected lowlands
that are mostly inhabited by nomadic people. New stations, some of
which rise incongruously from seemingly empty expanses of barren
bushland, are visualised as “transport-oriented development zones”:
future temples of commerce boasting malls, hotels, and golf courses.
The story of the railway is a parable of “developmentalism”, the east
Asian-inspired model of top-down development championed by the
Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), which has
ruled the country unchallenged for 27 years. This approach, with its
flinty dedication to grand infrastructure projects such as dams,
industrial parks, mass housing and railways, has delivered impressive
economic growth in recent years. But it has also kindled political
tensions, which, since exploding on to the streets in 2014, have
threatened to topple one of the continent’s most authoritarian
Since February, Ethiopia has been under a state of emergency, the
second of its kind in as many years. That month the then-prime
minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, was forced to resign, leading to the
appointment in late March of Abiy Ahmed, a young reformist who has
lately echoed the demands of the protesters for greater democracy and
an end to autocracy.
The railway embodies these contradictions. “It’s the physical
manifestation of the country’s politics,” says Biruk Terrefe, a
graduate researcher at Oxford University who has studied the project.
A journey along it eastwards from Addis Ababa takes in some of the
most visible signs of Ethiopia’s recent development: new factories,
irrigated sugar farms, shimmering rows of giant polytunnels with cut
flowers bound for Europe and America. Electrical pylons hug the tracks
all the way to the border with Djibouti while the road beside it is
mostly smooth and well paved. In the shadow of some stations new towns
are being built from scratch, as rural migrants arrive in the hope of
work and urban speculators eagerly anticipate the coming boom.
He blames corrupt officials for unfair compensation. “People were
intimidated, they were forced to give up their land almost for free.”
His friend Jemal points to a vast, hulking station in the near
distance. “All this area was mine,” he says. “They took three hectares
but only paid me for one: 100,000 Birs (£2,700) – that’s almost
A local official supports his allegation. “There were committees who
estimated the value of the land for the farmers, and presented the
price to the railway managers. I believe there was embezzlement by
those committees and the managers,” he told the Observer under
condition of anonymity. “One farmer’s land was estimated to be worth
250,000 Birs (£6,700) but in the end only 100,000 Birs was deposited
in his bank account.”
Biruk, the Oxford researcher, sees in this a fundamental problem for
the government and the ERC. “Some locals perceive the railway as an
Addis-based elite project,” he says. “A symbol of the regime.”
American Tower Corporation Set to Obtain 723 Towers from Telkom Kenya Kenyan Wall Street
Telecom provider, Telkom Kenya together with the American Tower
Corporation (ATC), a wireless and broadcast communications
infrastructure company based in Boston, USA, have announced the
signing of an agreement that will see ATC obtain 723 towers from
Aldo Mareuse, CEO of Telkom said the sale will release capital for
further investment in the company’s 4G network and a number of IT
The transaction is expected finalise in the second half of 2018 upon
regulatory approval and customary closing.