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Trees That Have Lived for Millennia Are Suddenly Dying @TheAtlantic
Around 1,500 years ago, shortly after the collapse of the Roman
Empire, a baobab tree started growing in what is now Namibia. The San
people would eventually name the tree Homasi, and others would call it
Grootboom, after the Afrikaans words for “big tree.” As new empires
rose and fell, Homasi continued growing. As humans invented paper
money, printing presses, cars, and computers, Homasi sprouted new
twigs, branches, and even stems, becoming a five-trunked behemoth with
a height of 32 meters and a girth to match.
And then, in 2004, it collapsed.
The tree’s demise was sudden and unexpected. In March, at the end of
the rainy season, Homasi was in full bloom. But by late June, its
health had suddenly deteriorated. One by one, its stems broke off from
the gargantuan trunk and toppled. The last of them fell on New Year’s
Day, 2005, ending 15 centuries of life.
Common throughout sub-Saharan Africa, the African baobab is one of the
biggest flowering plants in the world, and reputedly one of the
longest-lived. It’s also known as the upside-down tree, because its
bare branches look like roots, or as the monkey bread tree, because of
its nutritious and edible fruit. It’s exceptionally long-lived, but
recently, several of the oldest baobabs have been dying. Homasi, for
example, was part of a grove of seven baobabs, six of which perished
within a two-year period.
This isn’t an isolated event. Of the 13 oldest known baobabs in the
world, four have completely died in the last dozen years, and another
five are on the way, having lost their oldest stems. “These large and
monumental trees, which can live for 2,000 years or more, were dying
one after another,” says Adrian Patrut from Babes-Bolyai University in
Romania, who has catalogued the deaths. “It’s sad that in our short
lives, we are able to live through such an experience.”
The oldest tree that Patrut’s team studied—the Panke baobab from
Zimbabwe—was more than 2,500 years old when it died in 2011. Two other
trees—Dorslandboom in Namibia and Glencoe in South Africa—are also
more than 2,000 years old; their largest and oldest stems have
collapsed, but parts of them are still alive. The same can’t be said
for the Platland tree, which was arguably the biggest and most visited
baobab. In 2016 and 2017, all five of its stems split apart and fell.
No one can say if baobabs have died off in this way in centuries past;
these trees decay very quickly, and leave few traces behind. “But when
around 70 percent of your 1,500 to 2,000-year-old trees died within 12
years, it certainly is not normal,” says Erika Wise from the
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “It is difficult to come up
with a culprit other than climate change.”
Baobab is the common name of a genus of trees (Adansonia).
Baobab is the common name of a genus of trees (Adansonia). There are
nine species. Six species live in the drier parts of Madagascar, two
in mainland Africa, one in Australia and three in India, Ranchi. The
baobab is the national tree of Madagascar.
Other common names include 'boab', 'boaboa', 'bottle tree', 'the tree
of life', 'upside-down tree', and 'monkey bread tree'. The trees reach
heights of 5 to 30 metres (16 to 98 ft) and trunk diameters of 7 to 11
metres (23 to 36 ft). Its trunk can hold up to 120,000 litres of
water. For most of the year, the tree is leafless, and looks very much
like it has its roots sticking up in the air.
Baobabs are one of the largest and most important trees in all of
where they grow, as they are able to provide shelter and wood. The
leaves of the tree are used for making soup and it has some medicinal
purposes in some regions of Africa [explain] [source needed].
Abiy Ahmed pulls off an astonishing turnaround for Ethiopia @washingtonpost
SIX MONTHS ago, Ethi o pia appeared trapped in a cycle of unrest,
repression and more unrest. Stability in East Africa’s largest
country, with a population of more than 100 million, appeared to be
crumbling, while the once-booming economy was facing a debt crisis.
All of this was bad news for the United States, for which Ethi o pia
has been a key ally in combating terrorism in nearby Somalia. So it’s
more than worth cheering the rush of developments in Addis Ababa
during the past few weeks, which signal an astonishing turnaround
under a new and dynamic young leader.
In the past week , the government of Abiy Ahmed has lifted a state of
emergency, announced a major new program to partially or fully
privatize state-run firms and said it would finally implement a peace
agreement with neighboring Eritrea that it had been stalling for 18
years. That followed the release of political prisoners and
invitations to exiled dissidents and media outlets to return home. Mr.
Abiy, who took office on April 2, has been touring the country and
promising even more change: He says the constitution will be amended
to apply term limits to his position, which has been occupied by only
two other men since 1995.
The immediate effect of this reconciliation campaign has been to stem
ethnic unrest that had been threatening to tear Ethi o pia apart. Mr.
Abiy, who at 41 is one of the youngest leaders in Africa, is an Oromo,
a group that makes up one-third of Ethi o pia’s population.
It remains to be seen whether Mr. Abiy can sustain his reform drive,
which is sure to draw opposition from regime hard-liners. A key
question will be whether economic reforms, including the sale of
shares to foreign investors in large state companies and the
privatization of others, will bring in enough hard currency to allow
payments on foreign debts and ease import bottlenecks. A return of
economic dynamism would go far to address the long-festering unrest;
if that is accompanied by genuine political liberalization, the cause
of democracy in Africa could get a historic boost.
When Peace Is a Problem By Michela Wrong @nytimes
If nature abhors a vacuum, politics abhors a military standoff,
especially between two nations in one of the poorest, most volatile
and most strategically sensitive regions of the world.
And so there was much excitement when the government of Ethiopia
announced on Tuesday that it would fully accept the ruling of an
international tribunal in the country’s boundary dispute with Eritrea
— some 16 years after the judgment was issued.
In 2002, a special international commission delineated the border
between the two countries, as they had agreed in the peace deal that
ended their 1998-2000 war. Demarcation on the ground was expected to
start swiftly, allowing cross-border trade and cooperation to resume.
But none of this happened.
Ethiopia accepted the ruling in principle but called for further
dialogue and, crucially, kept its troops in place, including in what
had been declared Eritrean territory. A few years later, the boundary
commission dissolved itself, and in 2008, the United Nations peace
monitoring force meant to oversee actual demarcation pulled out, its
What once seemed unsustainable — an indefinite state of neither peace
nor war — became the norm. Both countries hosted guerrilla groups
committed to overthrowing the other one’s government. They cynically
fought a proxy war in neighboring Somalia. There were repeated
flare-ups at their border, triggering apocalyptic predictions that
Ethiopia and Eritrea were going to fight again, and next time to the
Legally, Ethiopia clearly was in breach, having committed in the 2000
peace deal, like Eritrea, to uphold whatever decision the boundary
commission issued. The United Nations, the European Union, the
Organization of African Unity (now the African Union) and the United
States had pledged to act as guarantors, and so were also in the
wrong. Eritrea, for its part, had good reason as a fledgling country
to crave international recognition for its borders.
So what prompted Ethiopia’s announcement this week? Age and sickness
is one answer. Over the years, local analysts and former guerrilla
fighters have told me that Ethiopia’s dispute with Eritrea was partly
being kept alive by animosity between the two countries’ longtime
leaders and their immediate entourages.
Years ago, Meles Zenawi and Isaias Afewerki, whose families both hail
from the Tigray region that straddles the border, joined the forces of
their rebel movements against Ethiopia’s Marxist dictator Mengistu
Haile Mariam. They managed to oust him in 1991, paving the way for
Eritrea’s formal independence from Ethiopia in 1993 — and then Mr.
Meles’s rise to prime minister of Ethiopia and Mr. Isaias’s to
president of Eritrea.
But rivalry and resentment simmered below the surface. In 1998, a
dispute over the nondescript border village of Badme escalated into a
war that would kill more than 100,000 people. Many Horn of Africa
watchers predicted that relations between the two countries would only
normalize once the two leaders quit the scene.
Mr. Isaias, 72, is still at the helm, although only last month he was
reported to have left Eritrea for emergency medical treatment in Abu
Dhabi. Mr. Meles died in 2012. His immediate successor, Halemariam
Desalegn, resigned in February, seemingly overwhelmed by the task of
running his discontented nation of some 105 million people. Mr.
Halemariam’s fresh replacement, Abiy Ahmed — a spruce 41-year-old with
a background in military intelligence — is a man in a hurry.
Appointing Mr. Abiy, an Oromo, as prime minister was a smart survival
move; the Ethiopian realized that real change was required.
So have its foreign allies.
In recent years, Western diplomats have grown more and more worried
that an increasingly isolated Eritrea, resentful at its treatment by
the international community and routinely dubbed a “pariah state” for
its domestic human rights record, might come to be seen as an
attractive destination by jihadists spilling out of nearby Yemen,
Syria and Iraq.
Any such infiltration would be particularly unwelcome given rising
geostrategic interest in the Horn of Africa over the last decade and a
half. The Red Sea has quietly become one of the world’s most important
waterways, with foreign military assets and investment pouring into
the region’s ports, railways, airports and roads. Djibouti, landlocked
Ethiopia’s de facto outlet to the sea, now hosts troops from the
United States and France, but also China, Germany and Japan. The
United Arab Emirates’ military operates out of the ports of Assab in
Eritrea and Berbera in Somaliland.
For such players, the stalemate between Eritrea and Ethiopia was
becoming politically and financially untenable. It is probably no
coincidence that Ethiopia’s shift about the boundary this week follows
a visit to the region in late April by Donald Yamamoto, the United
States’ acting assistant secretary of state for African affairs.
While cheering Mr. Abiy’s declaration about the border, diplomats are
stunned by the rat-a-tat pace of his sudden departures from old
practice. First came the release of the opposition leader Andargachew
Tsige, a bête noire of the Ethiopian government, along with several
hundred political prisoners. Then the state of emergency was lifted.
After that it was announced that state-owned enterprises would be
opened to private investment.
“This is breathtaking stuff,” said a diplomat who has spent years
shuttling between the region’s capitals. “The pace of change is
incredible, and the prime minister needs every bit of support from the
international community if he is to push this through.”
And yet the much-awaited, much-desired normalization of relations
between Ethiopia and Eritrea could prove more destabilizing to the
Horn of Africa in the long term than its cold war ever was.
For all of Mr. Isaias’s complaining about Ethiopia’s refusal to honor
the boundary decision, that reluctance has served him well: It has
allowed his control-freak regime to keep running Eritrea along the
militaristic lines he and his movement established in the bush during
the fight for independence. His government could invoke the threat of
an imminent invasion to justify its refusal to implement the 1997
Constitution, allow opposition parties, stage multiparty elections or
tolerate a free press.
Mr. Isaias’s insistence that all Eritreans’ first duty is to protect
their country has kept much of the nation’s youth trapped in
open-ended military service.
At the same time, indefinite forced conscription has allowed Mr.
Isaias to pre-empt the kind of mass protests that roiled northern
Africa during the Arab Spring. Eritreans who can’t stand living
conditions in Eritrea flee rather than rebel. In one of the saddest
exoduses in contemporary African history, tens of thousands of them
have risked their lives heading for the Mediterranean Sea and then
trying to cross it. Many have drowned; others have wound up rotting in
Libyan prisons or being held hostage by human traffickers in the Sinai
If Ethiopia does withdraw its troops from the Eritrean territory it
still occupies, a key excuse for Mr. Isaias’s iron rule will be
DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania ordered all unregistered bloggers and online forums on Monday to suspend their websites immediately or face criminal prosecution
DAR ES SALAAM, June 11 (Reuters) - Tanzania ordered all unregistered
bloggers and online forums on Monday to suspend their websites
immediately or face criminal prosecution, as critics accuse the
government of tightening control of internet content.
Several sites, including popular online discussion platform
Jamiiforums, said on Monday they had temporarily shut down after the
state-run Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) warned
it would take legal action against all unlicensed websites.
Regulations passed in March made it compulsory for bloggers and owners
of other online forums such as YouTube channels to register with the
government and pay up to $900 for a licence. Per capita income in
Tanzania is slightly below $900 a year.
Digital activists say the law is part of a crackdown on dissent and
free speech by the government of President John Magufuli, who was
elected in 2015. Government officials argue the new rules are aimed at
tackling hate speech and other online crimes, including cyberbullying
“All unregistered online content providers must be licensed before
June 15. Starting from today June 11 until June 15, they are
prohibited from posting any new content on their blogs, forums or
online radios and televisions,” the regulator said in a statement on
The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders group has said the new
online content rules “will kill off Tanzania’s blogosphere”.
The court issued the freezing orders following an application by Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) investigating officer Frederick Musyoki. @BD_Africa
The ARA said the suspects were paid through accounts held in nearly 10
banks for services and goods not delivered.
Banks mentioned in the ARA suit include top lenders like KCB Group ,
Equity Bank , Standard Chartered Bank , Barclays Kenya , and
Co-operative Bank .
Others are Stanbic Kenya , National Bank , Consolidated Bank, Credit
Bank, NIC Bank , I&M Bank and Guaranty Bank.
Central Bank governor Patrick Njoroge said earlier an unspecified
number of lenders were under investigation, with the first phase
focusing on tracing the recipients of the funds from the NYS and
recovering the assets.
The Lunch Menu [LUNCH for Trump and Kim Jong Un was, per WH] which
apparently juiced the negotiation.
—green mango kerabu with fresh octopus
—Korean stuffed cucumber
—beef short rib confit
—sweet & sour crispy pork
—Yangzhou Fried Rice
—dark chocolate tartlet ganache
The markets are still trying to get their hands around the Tariff War
and how much is bark and what will be the bite.
Emerging Market assets have been getting roiled of late and the South
African Rand was last 13.23 close to a 6 month low.
The Kenya Shilling was last at the 101.00 the figure level and has
been a big SSA Out Performer in 2018.
Bharti Airtel has abandoned plans to merge with Telkom Kenya reported
Reuters. “Airtel developed cold feet,” said an industry source who
declined to be named.
The Nairobi All Share firmed +0.03 points to close at 178.32.
The NSE20 rallied +21.43 points to close at 3357.28.
Equity turnover clocked 994.343m.
N.S.E Equities - Commercial & Services
Safaricom closed unchanged at 30.00 [+12.149% Year to Date] and traded
13.452m shares worth 405.473m. Safaricom is surely homing in on the
Ethic-Telecom Opportunity and a Foray North will be worth 20% on the
share price in the near term. Ethiopia is 105m market and M-PESA in
particular has a big role to play in what still is a cash-based
economy. Its a No-Brainer.
Eight Kenyan banks including Equity and KCB have advanced Kenya
Airways additional loans amounting to $42.6 million as part of the
ongoing capital restructuring at the airline [East African] Kenya
Airways eased -0.492% to close at 10.10 but was trading at the daily
limit 11.15 +9.85% at the Finish Line. Kenya Airways traded 297,700
shares. The KAA SPV [Special Purpose Vehicle] is a big net Add to the
bottom line, in my opinion.
N.S.E Equities - Finance & Investment
Equity Bank closed unchanged at 49.25 and traded 3.862m shares. Equity
trades on a Trailing PE Ratio of 9.85 and what caught my attention was
a significant steepening and acceleration in the Subsidiaries Earnings
SwissRe announced it was buying 348,504,000 ordinary shares in BRITAM
EA which follows hot on the heels of the recent issue of shares to IFC
and Afric Invest. Mr. Munga's Plum LLP entered into a share purchase
agreement with Swiss Re. Swiss Re will purchase 348,504,000 shares
from Plum, which equates to a 13.81% stake. BRITAM spiked +12.55%
higher to close at 15.70 and traded 9.568m shares worth 150.184m.
BRITAM is +17.6% in 2018, but its worth noting that IFC and Afric
invest share issues are dilutive.
CIC Insurance firmed +2.22% to close at 4.65 and traded 202,100
shares. There were Buyers for 6x the volume traded.
Pan Africa Insurance improved +2.13% to close at 24.00 and traded
2,200 shares. There were Buyers for 15x the volume traded.
N.S.E Equities - Industrial & Allied
EABL eased -0.9% to close at 220.00 and traded 680,900 shares worth
150.022m. EABL is now -7.56% in 2018 and materially under-performing
the market. The Underperformance has all happened in the last 4 weeks.
Mumias Sugar which had fallen by 36.4 per cent since the beginning of
the year to its lowest ever price of 70 cents yesterday closed
unchanged. There is no visible Path back to sanity, here.
Total Kenya rallied +3.076% to close at 33.50 and sits +42.55% Year to Date.
Kenya Power which had slumped -30.769% through this morning, snapped
+3.174% higher to close at 6.50.