|Tuesday 12th of March 2019
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Prompt Board Next day settlement
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PM @theresa_may will give @UKParliament a 'meaningful' Brexit vote on Tuesday: spokesman @Reuters
British Prime Minister Theresa May will hold the so-called a
meaningful vote on her Brexit deal on Tuesday as planned, her
spokesman said after media reports that she could downgrade the status
of the vote.
The spokesman said the government’s motion which will be debated and
voted on would be published later on Monday.
“It will be a meaningful vote,” the spokesman told reporters after
being asked what the vote on Tuesday would entail - whether it would
be on the Brexit deal as it stands or on a hoped-for deal that
includes limitations to the so-called Irish backstop that have not as
yet been agreed in Brussels.
The gains have seen sterling become the best-performing Group-of-10
currency this year as the prospects of a resolution to the tortuous
Brexit progress have improved as the March 29 deadline approaches. The
pound traded at $1.3218 as of 11:25 a.m. in Singapore.
12-MAR-2019 :: Roadtrip to Garissa
Bruce Lee the Kung Fu King said
''Life is wide, limitless. There is no border, no Frontier''
Jack Kerouac who wrote The book ''On the Road'' in which the
Protagonists, Sal Paradise, and his friend Dean Moriarty criss cross
America and Dean said
“Sal, we gotta go and never stop going 'till we get there.'
'Where we going, man?'
'I don't know but we gotta go.”
Well My Friend Abdullahi Sheikh had been telling me we should go on a
Road Trip to Garissa and considerably beyond. The Northern Frontier
District has always had a hold on my imagination. Abdullahi said we'll
go with Simba Guleid [Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC)
CEO] and the former Deputy Chief Kadhi, Rashid Ali Soyan. I thought
to myself if I am going to see what's going on up close and personal,
I couldn't go with a better and more connected crew. We drove 366 Kms
from Nairobi to Garissa, put down our bags and drove another 200 kms
close to the Daadab Refugee Camp. The last 70 kms were off road. We
arrived at a Village called Saldig. I drank fresh camel milk and ate
an evidently recently slaughtered Goat. It was a very beautiful
experience. I have read many books about various Explorers who spent
their time with Pastoralists and Nomads and they always write a
graciousness and an old world courtliness with which you are received
which is something you don't find anymore. I watched the sunset, and
we arrived back at 9pm and on our return leg we probably passed about
Garissa definitely had a Buzz and a spring in its step. I tend to find
statistics can tell you so much but kicking the tyres tells you much
more. Are People busy or are there many Folks standing about not doing
anything. How busy are the Motorcycle Folks? On all counts, Garissa
has the Big Momentum. Of course, if you look at the statistics, Isiolo
Samburu Lamu Marsabit Tana River Mandera Wajir Garissa West Pokot are
the Counties that are lagging. In fact, all these Counties constitute
about 2.5% of the Total County GDP.
Abdullahi said to me ''Each Camel costs about 100,000/='' He added
there are about 650,000 camels in Garissa County and 2.5m in the
Northern Frontier District.
I said ''Thats $650m'' I have not drilled into this but it would be
interesting to know how the Livestock Economy fits into our GDP
methodology. The Point is There is a low base Effect and its a
consequence of marginalisation. It is worth also pointing out that 18
of the 20 most affected Countries by Climate Change are in Africa and
the Horn of Africa is seen as the epicentre. Forage is being dried out
and reduced and its not clear to me that the ground can support much
more of a livestock economy. Therefore, these economies in the North
will have to pivot some.
Simba said to me ''Devolution has brought much needed liquidity.''
As I stood in that village on the edge of the Kenyan Frontier and
listened carefully to these Folks, I kept thinking these are resilient
People. We know appreciate that Human Capital is the most valuable
Capital of all.
The Horn of Africa has been characterised as an ungoverned space.
Ungoverned spaces are defined as zones that lay beyond the reaches of
the central government. The prevailing view holds that the more remote
they are, the more vulnerable they become to the lure of violent
radicalization and extremism. Prime Minister Abiy is keen to exploit
the Gas in the Ogaden. If he seeks with regional Leadership to
seriously stabilise [and not just pacify] the Somali-speaking part of
the Horn [Somalia, Ethiopia] then I predict the Horn will exert a
meaningful ''Pull'' Effect on this part of Kenya. It is worth noting
that US Airstrikes in Somalia have however flown off the charts.
“People need to pay attention to the fact that there is this massive
war going on,” said Brittany Brown [NY Times]. The United States
estimates that the Shabab has about 5,000 to 7,000 fighters in
Somalia, but the group’s ranks are fluid. A State Department official,
citing interviews from Shabab deserters, said that the number of
hard-core ideologues may be as few as 500.
“It could be there is some well-thought-out strategy behind all of
this,” Mr. Schwartz added, “but I really doubt it.”
“We go after the network when the network presents itself, whether a
single node or a concentration,” he said. “We’ve developed
intelligence and are sussing out the relationship between the
leadership and those being led; between those being led and those
being trained or recruited or massed for an attack.” “We understand
the network better than we have in years past,” General Olson said.
This pacification or is it a decapitation strategy has not borne results.
Garissa is located at 0°27′25″S 39°39′30″E. The Tana River, which
rises in Mount Kenya East of Nyeri, flows through the Garissa.
Most of Garissa's inhabitants are ethnic Somali. These are further
sub-divided into clans, with the Ogaden sub-clan of the Somali Darod
especially well represented.
There are also a small number of other minority ethnic groups,
commonly referred to as corner tribes.
Livestock production is a significant part of the town's economy.
Garissa has a hot semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification
BSh). Garissa's landscape is mostly arid, desert terrain. The city
lies along the Tana River, and has a very warm/hot climate due to the
low elevation and distance from cooler coastal areas. The daytime
temperature typically rises above 33 °C (91 °F) every day, but cools
down every night (see chart below).
How the giraffe got its neck: @NewYorker
It’s difficult to know what to make of the giraffe. It shuffles like a
camel (right legs forward, then left legs) but runs like a rabbit
(hind legs forward, then front legs). Its distinctive aroma repulses
many ticks but enchants certain people. It bellows, hisses, and moans
in the wild, and in captivity it hums in the dark. It naps with its
head aloft but sleeps like a swan, with its head on its haunches. Had
Aristotle ever seen a giraffe, he might have said that it was the
product of an interspecies dalliance at the watering hole, which he
thought of as a kind of zoological swingers’ club—a place where
“bastard animals are born to heterogeneous pairs.” Centuries of
further guesswork failed to clarify the giraffe’s essential nature.
Simone Sigoli, a Renaissance traveller, wrote that it had the body of
an ostrich, only with fine white wool instead of feathers, and that it
ate bread. “It is quite a deformed thing to see,” he concluded.
Sigoli’s contemporary Sir John Mandeville (likely the pseudonym of a
travel-averse plagiarist) described the “gerfaunts” of Arabia as
deer-rumped horses. For the eunuch general Zheng He, who brought a
giraffe home to Beijing, in 1415, it was a mythical qílín incarnate.
Not until the seventeenth century did the English, who fixated on the
giraffe’s camel-ish shape and leopard-ish coloring, stop calling it a
camelopard. Today, of course, we recognize the giraffe as a distinct
species, though the misapprehensions of the past endure in the
animal’s Linnaean name: Giraffa camelopardalis.
And then there’s that neck. Why is it so long? Unlike the swan and the
ostrich, which have a surplus of neck bones, the giraffe has seven
cervical vertebrae, the standard count for a mammal. But each one is
eleven inches in length. A human’s entire spine, by comparison, is
about two feet from top to bottom, not much longer than a giraffe’s
tongue. (Fynes Moryson, a Scotsman who went to Constantinople in 1597,
was distressed to find that the giraffe in the palace menagerie there
was able to plant “familiar kisses” on him from great range.) The
French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck held that a giraffe was merely
an antelope whose progenitors had strained their necks toward higher
and higher branches for food. Charles Darwin gave barely a thought to
the neck problem—it didn’t appear in his magnum opus, “On the Origin
of Species,” until the sixth edition—but he favored a similar, if more
scientifically rigorous, explanation. In periods of drought, he
suggested, when all the other animals on the savannah were scrounging
at eye level, Giraffa sprouted the evolutionary equivalent of an EZ
Reacher, which gave it access to a private larder in the succulent
crowns of the acacia trees, a privilege it passed on to its offspring.
“It seems to me almost certain that an ordinary hoofed quadruped might
be converted into a giraffe,” Darwin wrote, echoing Lamarck. The
theory was accepted as gospel for decades, until researchers noticed
two problems. First, no other quadrupeds underwent such a conversion:
the giraffe remained the lankiest thing around. And second, the animal
grazed with its neck horizontal about half the time, feeding on the
same bushes and shrubs as everyone else. (As Edgar Williams notes in
his book “Giraffe,” the animal is a born topiarist, “giving a
manicured appearance to the savannah.”)
Another popular theory involved sexual selection. To establish social
dominance, male giraffes engage in a practice known as necking,
swinging their heads at each other and trying to score a hit with
their ossicones, the horn-like growths on their skulls. (Afterward
they make up, sometimes quite bawdily.) For the neck to be a primarily
sexual characteristic, it would need to be larger in males than in
females, like a fiddler crab’s fiddle claw—but it isn’t. Although
males are indeed taller and heavier than females, the sexes’ necks are
proportional. Yet another theory, less widely accepted than the first
two, posits that the giraffe’s long neck is compensation for its long
legs. (You try bending down to drink on those things.) The neck’s true
provenance is perhaps some combination of these theories. As Darwin
wrote, “The preservation of each species can rarely be determined by
any one advantage, but by the union of all, great and small.”
A new paper, published today in the journal Nature Communications,
addresses the issue from a genetic perspective. The lead authors of
the study—Morris Agaba, of the Nelson Mandela African Institute for
Science and Technology, in Tanzania; and Douglas Cavener, of
Pennsylvania State University—seem less interested in why the
giraffe’s neck is so long than in how and when it got that way, a
question they investigate by comparing the giraffe’s genome to that of
its closest living relative, the okapi. At first glance, the family
resemblance is easy to miss. Okapis dwell in the lush equatorial
forests of the Congo, and were not discovered by Western zoologists
until the Victorian era. They are normal-necked and about the size of
a small horse, with the coloring of a chocolate Labrador on top and
zebrine stripes around their legs. And yet nearly a fifth of the
proteins that their genes encode are identical to those of giraffes.
(Another similarity: both animals are cloven-hoofed cud-chewers, which
makes their meat kosher.) Agaba, Cavener, and their colleagues
estimate that the two species diverged about eleven and a half million
years ago, fairly recently on the evolutionary time scale. By
cross-referencing the animals’ genomes, the researchers were able to
focus on seventy giraffe genes that show unique signs of adaptation.
Fully two-thirds of these DNA snippets control aspects of development
Consider, for a moment, the biomechanical quandaries involved in being
a giraffe. To get blood from your heart to your brain, a vertical
distance of at least six feet, requires blood pressure two and a half
times higher than a human’s. Every time you bend down for a drink,
spreading your front legs a little in order to get lower, the blood
rushes to your head and you risk stroke. Every time you straighten up,
the blood rushes back and you risk fainting. And when you’re standing,
gravity causes fluid to pool in your lower extremities, which makes
them swell. The giraffe manages these handicaps with a suite of
anatomical innovations. Its heart is “turbocharged,” according to
Agaba and Cavener, small in proportion to the animal’s over-all size
but with tremendously thick walls. The veins, arteries, and
capillaries are rugged, too, behaving as a kind of dampening system to
prevent the blood from sloshing around willy-nilly. And the giraffe’s
skin, tough and tight-fitting, performs the same task as a compression
stocking. (The Victorian explorer Henry Stanley had to melt down his
zinc canteens to make bullets hard enough to penetrate the giraffe’s
hide.) The adaptations are also neurological. A giraffe’s left
laryngeal nerve, for instance, which controls the muscles in its voice
box, must wind some fifteen feet through the neck, even though the
distance between the brain and larynx is only about six inches as the
crow flies. And, if the prospect of swallowing food down such a long
neck is startling, recall that giraffes are ruminants, and that
whatever goes down must also come up. Their esophageal muscles are
The seventy genes that Agaba and Cavener’s group examined doubtless
play a role in many of these adaptations, regulating which regions of
the embryonic giraffe’s skeleton expand and how much, and instructing
the developing vascular and nervous systems how to compensate. In
fact, the paper’s authors suggest that the giraffe’s stature and its
physiology may have co-evolved, with each growth spurt accompanied by,
say, sturdier blood vessels or thicker skin. The team is unveiling a
new initiative, the Giraffe Genome Project, to continue their
inquiries. In the meantime, the camel-like, rabbit-like, swan-like,
ostrich-like giraffe will remain one of nature’s curiosities, its neck
swaying faintly as it shuffles across the savannah.
Law & Politics
The Chavez Revolution was always a rebellion in the Superpower’s back
yard and the machine was eventually going to bring it to heel by hook
or by crook.
Pentagon warns of 'grave consequences' should Turkey buy Russian missile system
Law & Politics
“They will not get the F-35s if they take the S-400,” he added, later
indicating the potential Patriot sale would also be blocked.
The comments came a few days after U.S. European Command head Gen.
Curtis Scaparrotti said it would be his best military advice to bar
Turkey from getting the F-35, should the country continue on the path
of procuring the S-400.
On March 6, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told local
television channels that not only will Turkey stick to its S-400
acquisition plans, but it might also seek the more advanced S-500 in
"We signed a deal with Russia for the purchase of S-400, and will
start co-production. It’s done,” Erdoğan said, according to local
“There can never be a turning back. This would not be ethical, it
would be immoral. Nobody should ask us to lick up what we spat. Later,
we may work with S-500s.”
Kim Jong Un is showing signs he might fire his first rocket in 15 months. Long-time observers suspect he is bluffing. @business
Law & Politics
Two days after Kim’s summit with U.S. President Donald Trump broke
down over sanctions relief and disarmament steps last month, satellite
images showed that North Korea was rebuilding a long-range rocket site
it recently dismantled. The activity suggests that the country could
be preparing to launch a missile or satellite that would push back
against Trump while providing valuable data to improve his weapons
“It is a big gamble,” said Jenny Town, managing editor for the North
Korea-focused 38 North website. “If North Korea does launch a
satellite, it could derail all of North Korea’s diplomatic goodwill
built up over the past year.”
Any launch would be the first since Kim fired off an intercontinental
ballistic missile in November 2017 capable of reaching any U.S. city
and declared his weapons program complete. Just prepping a potential
launch site sends a pointed message to Trump, who has repeatedly cited
Kim’s decision to refrain from weapons tests to justify his
controversial decision to engage the North Korean leader one on one.
“North Korea’s message is that doing a deal with it and easing
sanctions are the best way to stop its provocations.”
18 SEP 17 :: "A screaming comes across the sky" North Korea. @TheStarKenya
Law & Politics
Gravity’s Rainbow is a 1973 novel by Thomas Pynchon which is about the
design, production and dispatch of V-2 rockets by the German military.
In particular, it features the quest undertaken by several characters
to uncover the secret of a mysterious device named the “Schwarzgerät”
(black device), slated to be installed in a rocket with the serial
number “00000”. As the world watches PyongYang, I cannot help
wondering if Kim Jong-Un has read Pynchon which speaks of “A screaming
comes across the sky” and North Korea.
“But it is a curve each of them feels, unmistakably. It is the
parabola. They must have guessed, once or twice -guessed and refused
to believe -that everything, always, collectively, had been moving
toward that purified shape latent in the sky, that shape of no
surprise, no second chance, no return.’’
Ruling with one foot in the grave @mailandguardian @simonallison
On the morning of April 5, in his official residence in Lilongwe,
President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi had a fatal heart attack. That
was not the end of his presidency, however. Even as his corpse
decomposed, he would go on to govern for two more days while his staff
pretended that everything was just fine.
Mutharika’s death was unexpected, and so, as his would-be successors
fought among themselves, his administration insisted that he was still
alive until they were blue in the face.
Not, admittedly, as blue as poor Mutharika himself, whose body was
flown to a hospital in South Africa for “medical treatment” in a
desperate attempt to keep up the facade.
It was only on the morning of April 7 that his death was officially
confirmed, and the vice-president allowed to assume power — and only
after a pointed intervention from South African diplomats, who
threatened to break the news themselves.
The Mutharika incident — let’s call it “Weekend at Bingu’s” — is the
only documented example of an African president literally ruling from
beyond the grave. But others have at least one foot in it, fatally
compromising their ability to do their jobs.
Right now, in Algeria, 82-year-old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is
seeking his fifth term. He has been in charge since 1999. But he was
paralysed after a stroke in 2013 and has not spoken in public since
Most observers believe he is too ill to wield real power. Video
footage and photographs of the president, showing a wizened, decrepit
man with barely the strength to sign his own name, support this
diagnosis. Algerians agree, judging by the tens of thousands of people
who have braved the brutal response from state security forces to
demonstrate, calling for Bouteflika to step down before next year’s
In response, Bouteflika — or the generals pulling his strings — has
promised to leave office within a year of being elected. That’s
assuming his body holds out for that long.
Another president who appears to be governing from his deathbed is
Gabon’s Ali Bongo, who had a stroke in Saudi Arabia in October. He has
returned home just twice since then, choosing to convalesce in Morocco
Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari made the same call when he became ill with
an undisclosed illness, seeking medical attention in the United
Kingdom. Buhari had to hand over power to his vice-president for
months at a time during his first term in office. In the absence of
official information, speculation about the president’s health grew so
wild that a rumour gained traction that Buhari had died and been
replaced by a body double — a man named Jubril from Sudan.
Although the Nigerian government likes to pretend its presidents are
healthy when they are not, the opposite applies to terror groups:
since 2009, security forces have repeatedly announced the death of
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, only for him to turn up later in
mocking YouTube videos.
It is not hard to find other presidents who remained in power despite
being obviously unfit to do so. The frail, nonagenarian Robert Mugabe
would fall asleep at summits and stumble down stairs before being
whisked to Singapore for mysterious medical treatments. Meles Zenawi
of Ethiopia disappeared from public view a month before he died,
leaving it to his hapless spokespeople to deny there was a problem. In
Guinea, Lansana Conté threatened journalists who dared mention his
poor health, only to prove them all right by dying without a
succession plan. Just a day after Conté’s death, the military seized
power in a coup d’état.
Being president is a physically demanding job. If Bingu wa Mutharika
and Abdelaziz Bouteflika can teach us anything, it is that the concept
of “fitness to hold office” should be taken as literally as possible.
10 NOV 14 ::Ouagadougou's Signal to Sub-Sahara Africa
What’s clear is that a very young, very informed and very connected
African youth demographic [many characterise this as a ‘demographic
dividend’] – which for Beautiful Blaise turned into a demographic
terminator – is set to alter the existing equilibrium between the
rulers and the subjects, and a re-balancing has begun. We need to ask
ourselves; how many people can incumbent shoot stone cold dead in such
a situation – 100, 1,000, 10,000? This is anotherpoint: there is a
threshold beyond which the incumbent can’t go. Where that threshold
lies will be discovered in the throes of the event. Therefore, the
preeminent point to note is that protests in Burkina Faso achieved
escape velocity. Overthrowing incumbents is all about acceleration,
momentum and speed best characterised by the German word ‘Blitzkrieg’.
Ghana to Meet Investors This Week to Test Eurobond Demand @markets
Ghana will meet investors later this week to gauge appetite for its
proposed sale of as much as $3 billion in Eurobonds, according to two
people familiar with the matter.
Officials will organize meetings in Boston, New York and London from
Wednesday, said the people, who asked not to be identified because
they’re not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
If the feedback is favorable it may lead to an immediate issuance, but
the ministry will return at a later date if price demands are too
high, the people said.
West Africa’s second-biggest economy needs $2 billion in
foreign-currency debt to help finance its 2019 budget and will take on
an additional $1 billion if it’s able to secure loans or securities at
lower rates than it’s paying for existing liabilities.
The country is going to the market at a time when the cedi is trading
at a record low and is this year’s worst performer among 140
currencies tracked by Bloomberg.
Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta didn’t immediately answer a call for
comment on the investor meetings.
In a separate call earlier on Monday, Ofori-Atta said difficult budget
demands were behind Ghana’s application for a $750 million bridge
loan, even though the offshore bond sale would be imminent.
The Finance Ministry presented a proposal for a syndicated facility to
lawmakers last week. The short-term loan will be repaid as soon as the
bond sale has been finalized.
“First-quarter demands are quite challenging,” Ofori-Atta said. “The
banks agreed to the bridge financing arrangement to help us meet our
needs during the period.”
Ghana is exiting a bailout program under the International Monetary
Fund, with a final review due by April 4. The country entered the deal
in 2015 when chronic budget overruns and a currency crisis caused
inflation and its debt obligations to soar.
04-MAR-2019 :: Meanwhile the Kenya Shilling crossed the psychologically important 100.00 mark last week
Meanwhile the Kenya Shilling crossed the psychologically important
100.00 mark last week. We underestimate the regional safe haven status
of the currency and I have noticed that these downside moves in the
Tanzanian Shilling are being mirrored by the strengthening of the
Kenya Shilling. The GOK appears to be inclining towards heavier
issuance in the Kenya Shilling with a tax Free Infrastructure Bond
slated for sale. If this is the thinking, then I expect the Shilling
to strengthen further as Kenya taps offshore funds. The Charts signal
a move as far as 92.00 but that might be too bold.
28-JAN-2019 :: A move below a 100.00 would catch a lot of people off-guard.
Every January every year every forecast about the shilling predicts a
10%-15% devaluation. Its mind boggling. The key levers with regard to
the shilling are the price of fuel [We have to write a cheque every
month], inward Remittances [flew off the chart last year and its not
clear to me if that bump will turn out to be ‘’amnesty’’ affected] and
I think we underestimate the regional ‘’safe-haven’’ status that the
Kenya Shilling has earned. A move below a 100.00 would catch a lot of