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ANIMALS ARE BECOMING MORE NOCTURNAL JUST TO AVOID HUMANS
After centuries of animal captivity, poaching, and urban expansion,
animals are now actively trying to avoid our presence by becoming more
nocturnal. With flashing lights, harsh noises and urbanization we have
become master destroyers of their natural habitats, leaving them
vulnerable and homeless.
A new study published in Science looked at the behavior of 62 mammal
species across six continents and discovered that 83% of these species
are becoming increasingly more active after dark.
Lead author Kaitlyn Gaynor explains that “human activity is creating a
more nocturnal natural world” and adds that the trend is both
“powerful and striking.”
Gaynor goes as far as to compare us to the dinosaurs, explaining that
“mammals were active entirely at night because dinosaurs were the
ubiquitous terrifying force on the planet” but now “humans are the
ubiquitous terrifying force on the planet.”
Even the fiercest animals, such as coyotes and tigers, are becoming
more nocturnal just to avoid the threat of Homo sapiens.
'The emptiness within and the emptiness without
When I was first in Orford, it was forbidden to approach ‘the island’,
but now there was no longer any obstacle to going there, since, some
years before, the Ministry of Defence had abandoned secret research at
that site. One of the men sitting idly on the harbour wall offered to
take me over for a few pounds and fetch me later after I had had a
look around. As we crossed the river in his blue-painted boat, he told
me that people still mostly avoided Orfordness. Even the beach
fishermen, who were no strangers to solitude, had given up
night-fishing out there, allegedly because it wasn’t worth their
while, but in reality because they couldn’t stand the god-forsaken
loneliness of that outpost in the middle of nowhere, and in some cases
even became emotionally disturbed for some time.’
So begins WG Sebald’s account of his trip to Orford Ness on the
Suffolk coast in his book The Rings of Saturn. It is an extraordinary
work, not quite fact, not quite fiction, in which Sebald uses a walk
along the coastline of Suffolk as the starting point for a deeply
melancholic meditation on time, memory, identity and the transience of
human existence. One of the most striking passages is his description
of Orford Ness, a long shingle spit at the mouth of the estuary of the
rivers Alde and Or. After rowing him across the river, the fisherman
leaves Sebald who sets out to explore the island:
The day was dull and oppressive, and there was so little breeze that
not even the ears of the delicate quaking grass were nodding. It was
as if I was passing through an undiscovered country, and I still
remember that I felt, as the same time, both utterly liberated and
deeply despondent. I had not a single thought in my head. With each
step that I took the emptiness within and the emptiness without grew
ever greater and the silence more profound. Perhaps that was why I was
frightened almost to death when a hare that had been hiding in the
tufts of grass by the wayside started up, right at my feet, and shot
off down the rough track before darting sideways, this way and that,
into the field.
Orford Ness had been, for more than half a century, from the First
World War to the Cold War, a top-secret military research facility.
Here were conducted experiments on parachutes, radar, aerial
photography, ballistics and bombs, including, in the 1950s, the atom
bomb. The military finally pulled out of the site in the mid-1980s.
But the infrastructure remained, as Sebald describes:
Call it a brilliant Trump strategic maneuver. Or was it Putins? @asiatimesonlines Pepe Escobar
Law & Politics
President Trump’s late-night, all-caps Tweet of Mass Destruction
threatening Iran is bound to be enshrined in the Art of Diplomacy
But let’s go back to how this all started. After unilaterally pulling
out of the Iran nuclear deal, the Trump administration has issued what
amounts to a declaration of economic war on Iran and will go no holds
barred to squeeze the Islamic Republic out of the global oil market –
complete with threatening allies in Europe with secondary sanctions,
unless they cut all imports of Iranian oil by November 4.
This past weekend, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said he
would support blocking all Middle East oil exports through the Strait
of Hormuz if Iran’s European trade partners succumb to pressure from
Washington and stop buying Iranian oil altogether.
Then President Hassan Rouhani followed Khamenei and warned the US
about “playing with the lion’s tail.”
Rouhani, as his record attests, has always behaved as the epitome of
cool diplomacy. Contrary to predictable US media spin, he never
“threatened” to attack the US. His premise was that Tehran was pleased
to offer Washington the “mother of all peace.” But if Trump instead
decided to attack Iran, then (italics mine) that would open the way to
the Mother of all Wars.
The fact remains that the Trump administration ditched a UN-sponsored
multilateral treaty and has now launched serious covert ops with the
ultimate goal of regime change in Iran.
Trump’s explosion of rage, coupled with US Secretary of State Mike
Pompeo’s touting of the interests of “the long-ignored voice of the
Iranian people” has been met with derision and scorn all across Iran.
Khamenei and Rouhani are on the same page – and that’s very
significant in itself. They now agree any negotiation with Washington
is futile. Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif provided the coup de
grace, tweeting that Iran had lasted millennia and had seen many
empires fall. He wrapped up with an all-caps Trumpism: “BE CAUTIOUS!”
The whole soap opera is ridden with pathetic overtones as US “experts”
posing as extras digress that there are only two outcomes left for
Iran: capitulation or implosion of the “regime”.
Anyone claiming Tehran will capitulate shows an utter ignorance of the
overall mood of defiance and scorn among the Iranian people, even as
they are faced with massive economic hardship. And anyone stating
there will be regime change in Tehran basically parrots a US “policy”
that is just wishful thinking.
The US neo-conservatives that brought the world the failed,
multi-trillion-dollar Iraq war should have been buried not six feet,
but six miles under. Yet, like the Walking Dead, they will never give
But, in the Middle East, at the moment there are three characters who
are singin’ and dancin’ like everything is going according to plan:
Saudi Arabia’s Mohamed Bin Salman (MBS), his mentor, the United Arab
Emirates’ Mohamed bin Zayed, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Surely they are not heeding the expert advice of former Mossad head
Meir Dagan, who stated that a military attack on Iran was “the
stupidest thing I have ever heard.”
It’s always possible that Trump’s all-caps spectacular may be a ruse
to distract Americans from the Helsinki “treason” scandal. That gets
traction when associated to the looming mid-term elections and Trump’s
absolute need to sound tough and keep the Republicans in line. Call it
a brilliant Trump strategic maneuver. Or was it Putin’s?
Back to reality, the stark options would come down to either Iran
becoming a US satellite or closing the Strait of Hormuz – something
that for all practical purposes would collapse the global economy.
I have been assured that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has the
technological means to block the Strait and would not flinch to go for
it rather than yield, if the going gets tough. President Rouhani
cannot resist the IRGC. The Trump administration has, in fact, forced
Rouhani to show his cards. All branches of the Iranian government are
War hysteria, already on, is extremely irresponsible. In the worst
Strait of Hormuz scenario, the US Navy would be impotent, as
Russian-made SS-N-22 Sunburn missiles could wreak havoc. Washington
could only bomb from Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar or Incirlik in Turkey.
Neither Qatar nor Turkey is inclined to antagonize Iran.
The Pentagon would have to bomb coastal missile sites on Iran’s
Persian Gulf shoreline. But these are heavily camouflaged; missiles
are portable, and there’s no reliable on the ground intel. Iran only
needs to fire one missile at a time. No oil tanker would possibly try
to get through.
Things don’t even need to degrade towards a shooting war. All Tehran
needs to do is to make the threat credible. Insurance companies would
stop insuring oil carriers. No oil carrier will navigate without
The geopolitical game is even more complex. Velayati was in Moscow
only a few days before Helsinki. Diplomatic sources say Iran and
Russia are in synch – and closely coordinating policy. If the current
strategy of tension persists, it raises the price of oil, which is
good for both Russia and Iran.
And then there’s China. A tsunami of sanctions or not, Beijing is more
likely to increase oil imports from Iran. “Experts” who claim that
Iran is becoming a pawn of Russia and China are hopelessly myopic.
Russia, China and Iran are already firmly aligned.
Short of war, the Trump administration’s top priority is disruption of
the New Silk Roads – the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – between
China and Europe. And the key economic connectivity corridor goes
The fundamental “enemy” is China. But to make any divide-and-rule plan
work, first, there’s got to be an attempt to lure Russia into some
sort of entente cordiale. And in parallel, Persian destabilization is
a must. After all, that’s what the Cheney regime used to describe as
“the great prize”.
Apart from not requiring installation, at $11.99 a month for a premium subscription, @netflix has a price advantage over @DStv , which costs $60 a month for a premium subscription
For months, the chief executive of South Africa’s biggest TV company,
MultiChoice, has suspected Netflix was messing with him and the rest
of the DStv parent company. Calvo Mawela was clearly spooked, yet it
seemed laughable that relative newcomer, Netflix South Africa was
going after DStv in particular, until it actually turned DStv’s
corporate paranoia into a joke.
To market to South Africans fed up with DStv, the streaming service
created a character, Man With A Van. Played by prominent local
comedian Jason Goliath, he makes a living faking Netflix
installations. Man With A Van visits clients houses, with pointless
wiring and over-the-top installation, even carrying an empty box with
the words Premium HD—a direct dig at DStv’s premium service.
Ethiopia could sell airline's hotel, airports in investor hunt
Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise is emerging as the flag bearer of plans
by Africa’s fastest-growing economy to open up to foreign investors
after decades as a closed shop.
While new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s ruling politburo has said a
minority stake in the continent’s largest carrier could be up for
grabs, Chief Executive Officer Tewolde GebreMariam now adds that
related assets such as airports and a five-star hotel could also be
sold off. That would give investors an opportunity to take ownership
in businesses that were nationalized in the 1980s under the former
Communist Derg regime.
Ethiopia needs about $7.5 billion to finish current infrastructure
projects and is also battling foreign-exchange shortages, Abiy said
earlier this month. The sale of airline-owned real estate may be
easier and quicker than, for example, a privatization of the much
coveted Ethio Telecom monopoly, which the Horn of Africa nation plans
to split in two and sell down following two years of study.
What will be the country’s largest hotel has five stars and is being
built near the international airport in Addis Ababa
“The first stage of foreign participation will be the hotel,” said Tewolde
“We want expertise, capital in the hotel. We have finished first
phase, but there will be second phase.”
Hoteliers with a strong Africa presence include Marriott International
Inc., which has some executive apartments in Addis Ababa
Accor SA, Europe’s biggest hotel operator, has announced plans to
expand on the continent; neither company responded to requests for
Cargo Airline & Logistics Co.
Ethiopia is Africa’s second-biggest producer of flowers after Kenya
and fourth-equal worldwide according to Rabobank research
Ethiopian Airlines owns a 150,000-square-meter (1.6
million-square-feet) cargo hub with capacity for 1 million metric tons
of fresh produce a year
“Logistics is a sector with government or national concern” as
Ethiopia focuses on producing industrial goods for export to the U.S.
and Europe, Tewolde said
“We do not have global standards for logistics in Ethiopia today”
The division could be converted into a joint holding with Deutsche
Post AG holding a 49 percent stake “within weeks”
The carrier owns 23 domestic airports, according to its website, from
Addis Ababa to Arba Minch
Additionally, the airline develops and operates airport shopping
centers, cafeterias, banking kiosks, internet services and parking
To extend Ethiopian’s Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul Services,
negotiations are under way with companies including Boeing Co., Airbus
SE, Bombardier Inc and Safran SA, according to Tewolde
Even before the vote, Zimbabwe's election is not credible @mailandguardian
On July 30, Zimbabweans will elect a new president for the first time
without Robert Mugabe’s name appearing on the ballot.
Most poll watchers expect the vote, at least on a surface level, to be
peaceful and orderly. Given the woefully low bar set by Zimbabwe’s
political leadership — which has presided over nearly four decades of
violent and brazenly manipulated polls — this could even be the
least-worst election in a generation.
It is now less than a week until the polls open. However, the actions
taken by the new government of Emmerson Mnangagwa have already made a
free, fair, and credible election impossible. Just last week, for
example, the country’s electoral commission – already viewed as a
partisan institution that favors the ruling party – changed the
position of polling booths so that they are now in full view of
officials and political party agents, a move that fatally undermines
the secrecy of the ballot.
Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s longtime enforcer and bag man, is the incumbent.
He rose to power last November in the aftermath of a military coup,
which played out live on national television. Mnangagwa and his cabal
of generals-turned-politician desperately need international approval
and political legitimacy. They are anxious to have a mountain of debt
owed to the World Bank and other lenders forgiven so they can start
Some international observers appear ready to rubber stamp the vote
despite rising concerns. The African Union (AU), for example, is
hoping for elections to be minimally acceptable, with anything short
of widespread violence likely to be given the stamp of approval. One
ominous signal: to lead their delegation, the AU has tapped former
Ethiopian leader Hailemariam Desalegn, whose party often won elections
with 100 percent of the vote.
The British embassy in the capital Harare is also thought to be
especially eager to normalise relations with Zimbabwe if the poll is
“good enough.” A crude ethos has seemingly developed that a lack of
violence somehow equates to a credible election. It does not.
On the contrary, however, the United States, Canada, Australia, and
the European Union have been more skeptical. They collectively argue
that Zimbabwe’s standard should not be merely surpassing its deeply
flawed past, but rather following the country’s constitution, as well
as regional standards and international norms, including the AU
Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance.
Superficially, voting on July 30 will almost certainly appear better
than past charades. A new biometric voters’ roll was created and
international observers were invited. In a first for Zimbabwe — and a
sign of how low the bar has become — opposition candidates have even
been allowed to campaign relatively openly this time around.
But election observers should not be fooled. The lack of blood in the
streets does not mean the vote reflects the will of the Zimbabwean
Here are eight ways that the vote has already been rigged, hacked or
The election body is not independent
Concerns with manipulation of the voter roll and ballot papers have been ignored
Integrity of the vote tally and data security
Denial of fair access to media
Ballot secrecy has been deliberately undermined
Organised intimidation is subtle but widespread
Unknown militants (known locally as ‘mabhinya’) have suddenly appeared
in villages as a flagrant effort to intimidate opposition supporters
and voters. When your home has already been burned down once, it only
takes a thug shaking a matchbox for people to receive the message.
Involvement of the security forces in the election
Under the current conditions, it is apparent that a free, fair and
credible election is not possible in Zimbabwe. That so many people
across the country — particularly the youth — remain undaunted by
these major trials, offers a ray of hope. The world should speak up
and stand with them.
Military refusal to accept the outcome @mailandguardian
Military leaders have in the past declared that they would only accept
a Zanu-PF president. A sitting cabinet minister recently repeated this
claim— and kept his job. A common belief is that the coup makers did
not take such a risk only to hand power to an opposition party eight
Africa: Isabel Dos Santos - the Fall of Africa's Richest Woman
By Rafael Marques de Morais
Just think for a minute. In a two-year span, a father gave his
daughter, among several contracts, four that were worth over US $22
billion. The father is then President José Eduardo dos Santos, and the
daughter is Isabel, Africa's richest woman. These were the golden days
of the presidential family's capture of Angola. Period.
In the past month, with a stroke of a pen, General João Lourenço has
annulled the four egregious contracts. The former "princess" is crying
foul, and is threatening to sue the Angolan state however, the state
is calling out her bluff. Her fortune is about to tumble like a house
of cards, just as her father's power fell flat once he left office
after 38 years.
Ultimately, this is the disheartening tale of an African woman who
chose to be an insensitive and insatiable robber baron when she had
the opportunity to be a transformer. She could have done some good for
her own country and people, and still be filthy rich. Now it is the
path of infamy...