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Thursday 27th of June 2019

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Macro Thoughts

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Fernando A. Flores's "Tears of the Trufflepig" @LAReviewofBooks

Death to the Bullshit Artists of South Texas is Fernando A. Flores’s
first book, a collection of stories set largely in the fictionalized
micro-universe that was the Rio Grande Valley punk and art scene of
the 1990s. Readers who’ve outlasted their tour through the disaffected
halls of any number of punk subcultures will find themselves massaging
each bruise, precious as a badge, earned at an all-ages show, a house
party, a dubiously legal warehouse. The writing was lyrical and exuded
a preternaturally cool charisma. There’s genuine affection in these
stories, for the characters, their lives, and the world that surrounds
them. In short, the collection announced a new talent, buzzing with
all the promise of a three-piece garage band. The fine people at the
Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation agreed and awarded Flores a
grant in order to complete his debut novel, the book that would become
Tears of the Trufflepig. Where Death to the Bullshit Artists of South
Texas was hyper-specific, insular, and deeply personal in the way that
most first books often are, Tears of the Trufflepig takes all the
verve and wit of Death and uses it in the employ of something much
more ambitious and much, much stranger.
In film parlance, Trufflepig is something of a two-hander — the tale
of two men, winding their way through a labyrinthine conspiracy.
Esteban Bellacosa, ostensibly our protagonist, is a laconic repo-man
charged with recovering lost construction equipment. Paco Herbert is a
Czech journalist tasked with writing a story about black market
dinners for the extravagantly wealthy. The two men weave in and out of
each other’s plots until the story’s countless themes and curiosities
are braided together and it’s nearly impossible to unravel them from
each other.
Now, about the plot. Drugs have been made legal, so the cartels have
taken to trafficking “filtered” animals, bio-engineered exotics
brought back from extinction and served at black market dinners for
the incredibly rich and extraordinarily vacuous. The death (by
filtered ostrich, no less) of El Gordo Pacheco, the leader of the
world’s most powerful cartel, has led to a global turf war for control
of the filtering syndicates. Australia, Helsinki, Tangiers, New
Hampshire: They all want in. Enter Leone McMasters, the
silver-mustached head of McM Imports, a shadowy multinational
corporation. Think Pynchon’s Golden Fang. Think Monsanto.
Also, there is a thriving black market for the shrunken heads of the
Aranaña Indians, a fictional tribe of indigenous people at the heart
of Trufflepig’s mystery. Having been vanished for over 400 years,
their sudden reappearance portends something. Perhaps it’s doom, but
perhaps it’s nothing at all, simply the passing of time. Still, tokens
of their existence have led to a Möbius strip of tragedy, “with
Indians now killing other Indians for their heads, because they are
left out on the margins of the modern world and have few recourses to
feed their families.”
Also, 18 colossal Olmec heads have been stolen by thieves, and this,
it seems, is the last straw. Protests have broken out all over Mexico:
“After years of gruesome violence and widespread fear, it seemed
people were finally fed up and unafraid to confront the impunity in
the country’s municipal and federal governments, which had gradually
been hijacked by the syndicates.”
Also, there is not one but two walls separating the United States from
Mexico, with a third on its way. Border Protectors, a specialized
military unit, patrols every inch of it. Phantom Recruits, an
underground network of spies and “Robin Hoods,” wages a shadow war
against the forces of corruption and injustice. In this kind of story,
you can expect to find a Border Protector who is secretly a Phantom
Recruit, much as you can expect to find a police chief working on
behalf of McM Imports.
Against all this, Bellacosa needs to recover the Mano de Chango, a
7900 Rig excavator that went missing from an McM construction site,
and Herbert needs to infiltrate a dinner featuring filtered animals,
see it for himself, and expose it. Lay it bare. Consequences be
If this all seems like too much, it’s probably because it is. Does the
mystery tie together? Every single stitch of it? I’m not entirely sure
that it does, but that isn’t the point either.
The plot lines in Trufflepig are funhouse mirrors, reflecting the
horrors of both our history and our headlines. The narco plot with
cartels generating living, breathing, biological miracles for the sole
purpose of exploitation, echoes colonialism’s shadow. The shrunken
heads plot, where the heads of the Aranaña are highly sought-after
tokens of taste and sophistication, echoes imperialism’s blood.
But it’s the narrative that delights. When so much fiction feels like
elegant dioramas, like masterfully crafted ships in bottles,
Trufflepig feels organic and amorphous, like some biological organism,
shape-shifting its way through the literary landscape, leaving a thin
ribbon of goo in its wake. The plot is beside the point. There is a
world to be discovered here.
In Trufflepig, Flores takes the well-worn, time-honored tradition of
the psychedelic-sci-fi-punk-western-horror-noir and turns it on its
ear. The psychological, the spiritual, and the political all
intertwine in a cicatrix pattern, one stitch pinning the other into
place. Trufflepig is a narcocorrido for the Island of Dr. Moreau. It’s
Roberto Bolaño and Gloria Anzaldúa dropping acid and staring into the
desert sun. It’s a metaphysical detective story about genocide,
corruption, and families. References are layered over top of one
another, like concert flyers on a light post. Pomade and pyramids.
Caldo de res and the cosmos. Coyotes and the south Texas moon. The
language is propulsive the way a jet engine is propulsive, a
landspeeder screaming across the desert of today’s headlines, the
pilot’s lips flapping in the wind behind him. The images are totemic
in nature, and Flores pushes them past their natural breaking point to
find something beautiful and unsettling waiting just beyond the other
side. A man walks like a spider missing two legs. A pyramid appears
beneath the surface of a frozen lake. Nighttime crawls out of the
tailpipes of zooming automobiles. Silence stares down like a gargoyle.
A pig, with green skin and a pair of wings, is spirited away like a
stolen car radio. This is to say that, while Trufflepig is many
things, what it is not is a river rock of a novel, a smooth stone
polished to perfection by the soft gurgling of peer-review workshops.
It is more like the freshly charred husk of a tree, severed sui
generis, and still smoking from a lightning strike.
But make no mistake: there is a familiar scaffolding holding the
narrative in place. Bellacosa is the classic pulp noir protagonist —
right down to the tragic loss of his daughter and wife — who finds his
way into a mind-bending conspiracy, with a secondary character, in
this case, a journalist, leading him through a very specific vision of
Hell. The setting is the US-Mexico border, and Bellacosa, like every
noir lead before him, flits easily between the two countries, between
the various strata of society, between the levels of class and wealth
he encounters. In fact, so much of Trufflepig takes place in this
liminal space that the novel would have you believe the border between
nations to be as permeable as the border between the flesh and the
spirit, between the desert dust of the real world and the deep psychic
communion of the subconscious.
But when Bellacosa is brought face-to-face with the titular
trufflepig, a hooved-animal, barrel-shaped like a pig, with wings and
a beak and green, shimmering skin, he soon realizes that this is no
ordinary once-extinct species filtered back into existence. This is
Huixtepeltinicopatl, “el cerdo de los sueños,” a spirit animal once
worshipped by the Aranaña people, a god. And here’s where things get
To say anymore would be to spoil one of the most thrilling debut
novels in recent history. Tears of the Trufflepig is funny and
thrilling and tragic. Loose and sometimes unwieldy, yes, but also
mesmerizing and ambitious. It might not suit everyone’s tastes, but
neither does Galápagos Gumbo. And let’s face it: you’re already seated
at the table.

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The Lion Man is a masterpiece. Sculpted with great originality,
virtuosity and technical skill from mammoth ivory, this
40,000-year-old image is 31 centimetres tall. It has the head of a
cave lion with a partly human body. He stands upright, perhaps on
tiptoes, legs apart and arms to the sides of a slender, cat-like body
with strong shoulders like the hips and thighs of a lion. His gaze,
like his stance, is powerful and directed at the viewer. The details
of his face show he is attentive, he is watching and he is listening.
He is powerful, mysterious and from a world beyond ordinary nature. He
is the oldest known representation of a being that does not exist in
physical form but symbolises ideas about the supernatural.

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"You're working really hard to keep up with a system that is constantly experimenting on you."

I recently got the internet in my apartment fixed, and my technician
had an unusual request.
I’d get an automated call after he left asking me how satisfied I was
with the service, he explained, and he wanted me to rate him 9 out of
I asked why, and he said there was a glitch with the system that
recorded any 10 rating as a 1, and it was important for him to keep
his rating up.
Since then, a couple of people have told me that technicians working
for the company have been making this exact request for at least two
A representative for Spectrum, my internet provider, said they were
worrying over nothing.
The company had moved away from the 10-point rating system, he said,
adding that customer feedback isn't “tied to individual technicians’
But even if the Spectrum glitch exists only in the lore of cable
repairmen, the anxiety it's causing them is telling.
Increasingly, workers are impacted by automated decision-making
systems, which also affects people who read the news, or apply for
loans, or shop in stores.
It only makes sense that they’d try to bend those systems to their advantage.
Attempting to manipulate mysterious automated systems is a common
feature of modern life. Just ask any search engine optimist, Instagram
influencer, or foreign intelligence agency.
There exist at least two separate academic papers with the title “Folk
Theories of Social Feeds,” detailing how Facebook users divine what
its algorithm wants them try to use those theories to their advantage.
People with algorithms for bosses have particular incentive to push back.
Last month, a local television station in Washington covered Uber
drivers who conspire to turn off their apps simultaneously in order to
trick its system into raising prices.
The segment showed drivers standing in a parking lot while a group of
organizers yelled to everyone when to shut their phones off, then turn
them back on.
“When we find out what’s the highest surge, that’s when we say,
‘Everybody on,’ and everybody gets paid what we think we should be
getting paid,” explained one of the orchestrators.
Alex Rosenblat, the author of Uberland, told me that these acts of
digital disobedience are essentially futile in the long run.
Technology centralizes power and information in a way that overwhelms
mere humans.
“You might think you’re manipulating the system,” she says, but in
reality “you’re working really hard to keep up with a system that is
constantly experimenting on you.”
Compared to pricing algorithms, customer ratings of the type that
worried my repairman should be fairly straightforward.
Presumably it’s just a matter of gathering data and calculating an
average. But online ratings are a questionable way to judge people
even if the data they’re based on are pristine—and they probably
Academics have shown that customer ratings reflect racial biases.
Complaints about a product or service can be interpreted as commentary
about the person who provided it, rather than the service itself.
And companies like Uber require drivers to maintain such high ratings
that, in effect, any review that isn’t maximally ecstatic is a request
for punitive measures.
Drew Franklin, who has worked as a field technician for Verizon in
Washington, D.C. since 2017, said the customer review system is a
source of near-constant stress.
His customers get a five-question phone survey after each visit, as
well as a chance to leave a message elaborating on their experiences.
Franklin, who also ran unsuccessfully for D.C.’s district council in
2016, has looked at his own reviews, and says the sentiment in the
messages periodically conflicts with the numbered scores from the
If the survey scores are low, his boss is automatically alerted. “If
you get a bad review and they look into it, maybe it’s frivolous,”
Franklin says. “But your score is your score.”

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For whom the bell tolls a poem (No man is an island) by John Donne

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

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The madman theory is a political theory commonly associated with U.S. President Richard Nixon's foreign policy.
Law & Politics

He and his administration tried to make the leaders of hostile
Communist Bloc nations think Nixon was irrational and volatile.
According to the theory, those leaders would then avoid provoking the
United States, fearing an unpredictable American response. In 1517,
Niccolò Machiavelli had argued that sometimes it is "a very wise thing
to simulate madness" (Discourses on Livy, book 3, chapter 2). Although
in Nixon's Vietnam War, Kimball argues that Nixon arrived at the
strategy independently, as a result of practical experience and
observation of Dwight D. Eisenhower's handling of the Korean
In his 1962 book, Thinking About the Unthinkable, futurist Herman Kahn
argued that to "look a little crazy" might be an effective way to
induce an adversary to stand down.[3]
Nixon's Chief of Staff, H. R. Haldeman, wrote that Nixon had confided to him:
I call it the Madman Theory, Bob. I want the North Vietnamese to
believe I've reached the point where I might do anything to stop the
war. We'll just slip the word to them that, "for God's sake, you know
Nixon is obsessed about communism. We can't restrain him when he's
angry—and he has his hand on the nuclear button" and Ho Chi Minh
himself will be in Paris in two days begging for peace.[4]
In October 1969, the Nixon administration indicated to the Soviet
Union that "the madman was loose" when the United States military was
ordered to full global war readiness alert (unbeknownst to the
majority of the American population), and bombers armed with
thermonuclear weapons flew patterns near the Soviet border for three
consecutive days.[5]
The administration employed the "madman strategy" to force the North
Vietnamese government to negotiate an end to the Vietnam War.[6] In
July 1969, according to a recently-declassified CIA report, President
Nixon may have suggested to South Vietnamese President Thieu that the
two paths he was considering were either a nuclear weapons option or
setting up a coalition government.

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09-JUL-2018 :: Tariff wars, who blinks first?
Law & Politics

昨天習近平在中共政治局會議上說:“各種動搖黨的根基的危險無處不在,小管湧會淪為大塌方。” @wangdan1989



"The dangers of shaking the party's roots are everywhere, and small
tube surges can be reduced to a landslide," Xi said at a meeting of
the Communist Party's Politburo yesterday.
This is a wonderful world: from Western scholars to ordinary Chinese
people, the Chinese Communist Party is very confident that its rule is
Only the Communist Party itself, but every day nervous, feel that will
"collapse". Who scans a reasonable person to believe?

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17-JUN-2019 :: Hong Kong is savouring a quite momentous Geopolitical Victory and seriously countertrend in point of fact. The Supreme and "Paramount Leader" made his first [that I can recall] volte-face.
Law & Politics

The Carrie Lam Administration has withdrawn the Extradition Law indefinitely.
Make no mistake the Decider in this matter is Xi who has moved with despatch.
 Essentially, he understood Hong Kong could not be ‘’Xinjiang-ed’’
Furthermore, being a ‘’Paramount Leader’’ is a double-edged sword.
“This is all on Xi’s shoulders,” said Trey McArver, co-founder of
Beijing-based research firm Trivium China. [Bloomberg]

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The workshop arranged by President Trump's son-in-law, setting out his personal vision for achieving peace in the Middle East, had a noticeable absentee: the Israelis and Palestinians @lindseyhilsum
Law & Politics

He called it “Peace to Prosperity”, but the workshop arranged by
President Trump’s son-in-law, setting out his personal vision for
achieving peace in the Middle East, had two noticeable absentees – the
Israelis and the Palestinians, who have rejected out of hand Jared
Kushner’s plan to put money before politics.

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.1367
Dollar Index 96.209
Japan Yen 107.94
Swiss Franc 0.9793
Pound 1.2694
Aussie 0.6995
India Rupee 69.14
South Korea Won 1157.21
Brazil Real 3.8446
Egypt Pound 16.69
South Africa Rand 14.177

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"Wealth is the hidden side of speed and speed the hidden side of wealth"
International Trade

Bitcoin, Beyond Meat and Zoom is Virilio’s quote expressed in market terms

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Avocado fans seeking a break from record prices are set to be disappointed.

Prices of the dark-green fatty fruit, featured on nearly half of U.S.
menus and used in everything from toast to tacos and salads, are
expected to continue rising until Mexican farmers begin harvesting
later this summer.
The price of Hass avocados from Michoacan, the heartland of the Latin
American nation’s output, jumped about 7% to a record 650 pesos for a
10-kilogram box on Wednesday, according to government data based on
daily surveys in Mexico City’s Central de Abastos, the capital’s
bustling wholesale-produce market. AvoPrice, a platform to monitor
prices in real time, recorded a rate of more than 100 pesos per
kilogram on Wednesday for avocados bought directly from Michoacan
growers. The market has surged the most in at least a decade this year
due to rising trade and border tensions between the U.S. and Mexico,
the biggest avocado producer and America’s No. 1 supplier. A smaller
crop in California has also helped the advance.
“It’s the shortage,” Michoacan-based producer Humberto Solorzano said
of the higher prices. “The current season is ending this week and the
new season begins next week.”
What’s more, the early signs from avocado trees that are just blooming
have not been promising, said Solorzano, who is also a founding member
of AvoPrice.
Without a futures contract, the avocado market can be relatively opaque.
Supplies should remain relatively tight until mid-July, said David
Magana, vice president and senior analyst at Rabobank in California.
“We will see higher prices for the next two to three weeks,” he said
by phone.

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The "Zeitgeist" of a time is its defining spirit or its mood. Capturing the "zeitgeist" of the Now is not an easy thing because we are living in a dizzyingly fluid moment.

Gladwell stated: "Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread
like viruses do".
My Point is that the Millenials discovered the virtues of Avocado, the
behaviour spread like a 'virus' and Boom prices sky-rocketed.
The Avocado Price surge is an example of the new c21st Millennial
Economy but there are many other examples.

Emerging Markets

Frontier Markets

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Simply outstanding @Reuters Report Twin attacks threaten new Ethiopian government's reforms @ReutersAfrica

BAHIR DAR, Ethiopia (Reuters) - The Baklaba and Cake cafe was heaving
with customers when truck-loads of heavily armed men in fatigues
rolled up across the road outside the local government headquarters in
Ethiopia’s Amhara region. The men, some carrying two Kalashnikov
assault rifles, stormed the building, sending customers enjoying a
Saturday afternoon coffee in the cafe diving for cover, witnesses
said. Within moments, the assailants had shot dead Amhara’s president,
an aide and fatally wounded the state’s attorney general. Hours later,
325 km (200 miles) to the south in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa,
gunshots rang out behind the high gray walls of a red-roofed villa as
the military’s chief of staff and a retired general were slain by a
bodyguard. The attacks, described by the government as part of a coup
attempt in Amhara, highlight the dangers Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed
faces as he rolls out ambitious reforms in Africa’s second most
populous nation - a regional powerhouse whose economic boom is now
threatened by deepening ethnic and regional fissures. Since Abiy came
to power in April 2018, attention abroad has focused on the rapid
political, economic and diplomatic changes he has been introducing in
one of the continent’s most closed and repressive countries.

“The world out there wanted to believe the fairy tale. They became
obsessed with their own narrative,” said Tamrat Giorgis, the managing
editor of the Addis Fortune, a privately-owned English-language
newspaper. “But that doesn’t chime with what is happening on the
ground. It is much more complex and scary.”

Abiy has loosened the iron grip the central authorities held over a
deeply fractured nation, freeing imprisoned opposition leaders, rebels
and journalists, lifting bans on some political parties and sealing a
peace deal with arch-enemy Eritrea. His plans to partially privatize
some state enterprises have piqued the interest of foreign
multinationals hoping to profit from market of 100 million people, and
should breathe life into the debt-laden economy.
But the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front
(EPRDF), itself a coalition of four ethnically-based parties, faces
strident challenges from newly emboldened regional powerbrokers
demanding more influence and territory. Ethnic violence has killed
hundreds of people. That, and a severe drought, means some 2.4 million
people are currently displaced in Ethiopia, the United Nations says.

“Abiy’s reforms removed the lid on many accumulated grievances,” said
Rashid Abdi, an independent Horn of Africa analyst. “Making the
transition to a more open society is always dangerous.”

Abiy’s response to his biggest challenge yet will not only define his
leadership but could determine whether Ethiopia will sustain its
decade-long boom, or spiral into the violence that has plagued
neighboring Somalia and South Sudan. Former intelligence officer Abiy,
son of a Muslim father and Christian mother, is from Ethiopia’s
largest ethnic group, the Oromo, who spearheaded years of
anti-government protests that eventually drove his predecessor to
resign last year. Abiy has the right profile to reassure several
disgruntled sections of Ethiopian society, analysts say. But the
divisions Abiy must bridge in Amhara and elsewhere are old and deep.
Asamnew Tsige, the rogue general accused of orchestrating Saturday’s
violence, often invoked them.

“Five hundred years ago, we faced a similar test,” Asamnew told
graduating Amhara Special Forces this month, referring to the
historical expansion of Oromo people into Amhara.

The history of Amhara, which has provided Ethiopia with its national
language, is a source of pride for many who belong to the country’s
second largest ethnic group. Some there resent the fact the previous
federal government was dominated by Tigrayans who make up about 6% of
the population - and now the prime minister is an Oromo. Border
disputes simmer with neighboring Oromia and Tigray.

Asamnew fanned those flames when he was released last year after
nearly a decade in prison for a previous coup attempt. The regional
government named him head of security to placate his hard-line base.
He began recruiting for a new state-sanctioned militia and called on
the Amhara people to arm themselves.

Seven Amhara leaders, including acting regional president Lake Ayalew,
had gathered for a meeting in Bahir Dar, Amhara’s regional capital,
when gunmen tried to burst in at 4 p.m.
“They struggled to open the door,” Lake told Amhara Mass Media Agency.
Three officials ran for an exit but were gunned down, he said. The
rest hid. Guards and attackers exchanged fire.
The attorney general was badly wounded. “We tried to tie up his wounds
with a curtain. The other two were already dead,” said Lake.
After the hit squad killed the state officials, fighting broke out at
the police station - now peppered with bullet holes - and the local
EPRDF headquarters, witnesses and Asemahagh Aseres, a regional
government spokesman, said.
Asemahagh said Asamnew’s new militia had appealed for others to join
their putsch but had been rebuffed.
The gunfire ended about five hours later, after federal reinforcements
arrived by helicopter, the witnesses said.
Dozens of people died in the fighting, and the security forces killed
Asamnew in a shootout on Monday, near Bahir Dar, Asemahagh said.
For days, regional state-run television ran rolling coverage
commemorating the three murdered officials.

But on the streets, some suspected an official conspiracy, accusing
federal authorities of orchestrating events to remove a popular and
powerful regional leader.
“The federal government doesn’t want a strong leader here. The general
was mobilizing the youth at the regional level, and they didn’t like
it,” said a young man at a street cafe, who asked not to be identified
for safety reasons.

The National Movement of Amhara - an increasingly popular ethnocentric
party founded last year and a rival to the Amhara party in the EPRDF
coalition - condemned the killings but queried the government’s

“At this moment we can’t say whether there was a coup,” Christian
Tadele, spokesman for the new party, told Reuters. “First, we need an
independent enquiry ... The federal government is trying to use this
incident to control the security apparatus of the region.”

In Ethiopia’s bustling capital, there was little sympathy for the coup
plotters. A country-wide internet blackout remained in force but the
city had returned to normal with battered blue and white taxis
clogging the streets.

“This is a fascist, heinous assassination crime that no one can expect
to happen in the 21st century,” said Addis Ababa resident Berhanu
Bekele. On Tuesday, a weeping Abiy led hundreds of soldiers, officials
and relatives, many dressed in black and sobbing, in a commemoration
for Chief of Staff General Seare Mekonnen and the retired general in
the capital. Near Seare’s house in Addis Ababa, federal police crammed
into a tiny hair salon to watch the ceremony live on television. Tears
welled up in their eyes and several shook their heads as the cameras
panned to Seare’s flag-draped coffin. Seare was killed by a recently
appointed bodyguard, but reinforcements coming to his rescue sustained
heavy fire from at least two gunmen, one security officer involved
said. One gunman escaped in a waiting car but the bodyguard was
arrested. Wounded in the foot, he then shot himself in the neck in an
apparent suicide attempt, the officer said. Ethiopian officials said
the killings in the capital were designed to distract and divide the
military as it tackled the coup attempt in Amhara. After the ceremony
in Addis Ababa, the bodies of the two slain generals were flown north
to their native Tigray for burial. Bitter crowds mourned them at a
memorial on Wednesday. Already angry over the loss of influence
Tigrayans enjoyed under the previous administration, many chanted
“Abiy is a traitor” and “Abiy resign”.

“I am angry against Abiy because he is too soft and full of rhetoric,”
said 19-year-old college student Selam Asmelash.
A reckoning may be coming.
Elections are due next year, although no date has been set - and
weapons have been pouring in from countries including Sudan and South
Sudan, said Justine Fleischner, an arms expert with UK-based Conflict
Armament Research.
The weapons fuel armed gangs, menacing travelers and disrupting
transport networks. Police said in June they had seized nearly 11,000
weapons and almost 120,000 rounds of ammunition in the capital over
the last nine months.
“People are sick of the insecurity. If (Abiy) doesn’t do something
now, people might think he is too weak to govern,” said a foreign
businessman based in Addis Ababa.
One of the biggest risks is that the splits in society could break the
ruling coalition - or the military, said Gerard Prunier, an academic
who has written extensively about Ethiopia.
The EPRDF’s ethnically based parties must respond to the demands of
their constituents or lose support to hardliners, so the government is
increasingly losing its ability to place friendly faces in top
regional positions, Prunier said.
“The EPRDF is the only tool that the prime minister has to govern -
and it is not a reliable tool.”

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William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) THE SECOND COMING

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

    The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

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The near term events will surely alert Investors to risks which had
been previously overwhelmed by Prime Minister Abiy's sheer force of
personality and his velocity. Having announced his economic Pivot 90
days into his term, recent developments particularly around the
Telecom Sector indicated he was ready to go much further much faster
than even the boldest Commentator had imagined. The cross cutting
political undercurrents are multi-sided and the seriousness is
reflected in the number of IDPs. To Date Investors have given the
Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt. This might be a popping over
the Radar moment for political risk. The Final worry is around
bandwidth in the PM's Office and whether the Office can risk manage
the Politics and simultaneously fast track the much needed economic
reform program.

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People Are Dying From @Eskom_SA's Pollution in South Africa @business

On the right side of the main street of the dilapidated village east
of Johannesburg is a fenced-off electricity substation with a red sign
warning of pollutants. On the left, a power plant belches emissions
from burning coal into the air. Both are owned by Eskom Holdings SOC
Ltd., South Africa’s state-run utility.
Pullens Hope has doomed Rita Phoku’s family, she says. For decades,
she lived between a storage site for Eskom’s burnt-coal waste and a
coal-mine complex. Four of her five children suffer from asthma and
other respiratory illnesses, while her 23-year-old daughter, Prudence,
died of cancer of the lungs and respiratory tract. Her sister, who
lived nearby, suffered repeated miscarriages and died of respiratory
illness. All told, Phoku says, she has lost as many as nine family
members to respiratory-related diseases.
She blames Eskom, which owns 12 coal-fired power plants in Mpumalanga
province, in which Pullens Hope lies. They are in a belt of 90 miles
by 110 miles that accounts for most of South Africa’s electricity
production. Air pollution in the biggest towns in Mpumalanga is
regularly higher than that in Beijing and Jakarta, two of the most
polluted cities in the world, according to AirVisual, an air-quality
monitoring app.
“There’s no point being angry at anyone because when you keep
complaining, you’re labeled as a person who just wants to start
conflict,” said Phoku, 55, standing on the dirt lot where she cooks
food on an open fire in a dirt lot to sell to workers as they pass by.
“My children are still getting sick and all I can do is take out money
so they can go to the doctor.”
The environmental group Greenpeace, using satellite data, said that
between June and August last year the area suffered the worst nitrogen
dioxide power plant pollution on Earth. In a separate study, it said
emissions such as sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and mercury were
causing deaths from respiratory disease, strokes and heart attacks
even beyond Mpumalanga, including in greater Johannesburg, a
metropolis of 10 million people lying to the east.
That study and one produced by another environmental group, estimate
that more than 2,000 South Africans die prematurely from power plant
pollution. China, which has a population more than 20 times greater
than South Africa, suffered 3,153 “excess” deaths from coal plants in
2011, according to a study published by the American Chemical Society
in 2017.

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President @AlsisiOfficial Egypt. Al-Sisi made bold moves when it came to the Economy. Egypt devalued its currency early but is now reaping the dividend from its bolder economic policy

''Baba Go Slow'' has to be contrasted with President Al-Sisi's Egypt.
Al-Sisi [and I for one disagree with him on many things particularly
with his ''incarceration'' strategy] made bold moves when it came to
the Economy.
Egypt devalued its currency early, took a brutal punch In the solar
plexus but is now reaping the dividend from its bolder economic policy

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Local-currency bonds have handed investors a 23% return this year, five times the emerging-market average. And the Egyptian pound's 7.3% gain against the dollar is the most globally after Russia's ruble. @business

Demand has been strong in large part because of a three-year IMF loan
deal worth $12 billion that expires later in 2019.
President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s administration wants to replace it
with a non-financial agreement so that the IMF continues supporting
structural reforms.
That could help sustain portfolio flows to a country that already has
the advantage of being unscathed by the U.S.-China trade war relative
to most other emerging markets, according to Cairo-based investment
bank EFG-Hermes.
“Egypt makes for a very good trade,” said Mohamed Abu Basha, EFG’s
head of macroeconomic analysis.
“I don’t think many investors were very worried about the government
backtracking on reforms, but signing the deal would act as further
reassurance and can guarantee a consistent stream of inflows and lower
borrowing costs.”
The average yield on Egypt’s local debt has fallen 214 basis points to
a one-year low of 16.4% since the end of 2018, according to Bloomberg
Barclays indexes.
It remains about the highest among major emerging nations, behind only
Argentina and Turkey.
Gains in the Egyptian currency have come despite the central bank’s
surprise rate cut in February, though a dovish tilt from U.S. and
European monetary officials helped.
Citigroup Inc. and Societe General SA have recommended that
fixed-income clients stick with the Egyptian trade, citing real yields
of roughly 5% and the pound’s resilience.
Carry traders who borrowed dollars to invest in Egyptian local debt
would have made returns of 15% so far this year.
Marie Salem of FFA Private Bank said Egypt may get another boost if
U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan to attract $50 billion of
investment for the Palestinian territories and its neighbors succeeds.
Egypt is meant to receive $9.1 billion under the initiative, though
Palestinian leaders have rejected it and El-Sisi’s government only
sent a deputy finance minister to its launch in Bahrain this week.
“With all the enhancement and support that Egypt is getting from the
IMF and the U.S., and the efforts of the regulators, the pound has
maintained its stability for the past year and we expect it to
strengthen,” said Salem, Dubai-based director of capital markets at

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Airtel Africa Ltds planned initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange is expected to price at 80 pence, the bottom end of its indicated price range

Airtel Africa, a unit of India’s Bharti Airtel Ltd, last week set a
price range of 80 to 100 pence per share for its IPO, which is
expected to raise 595 million pounds from the issuance of 595.2
million to 744 million new shares.

The bookrunner, which said on Monday it had received indications of
interest worth about $200 million from pre-IPO investors, said it had
further investor orders of $100 million.

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Tenants to pay rent in Uganda shillings as Parliament passes Landlord and Tenant Bill @DailyMonitor

Parliament on Wednesday passed into law the Landlord and Tenant Bill
2018 that will make it mandatory for all payments of rent to be
transacted in local currency.

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Kenya Cancels Environment License of $2 Billion Coal-Power Plant @bpolitics @herbling
Kenyan Economy

A Kenyan tribunal canceled an environment license for a planned $2
billion coal-power plant near the coastal town of Lamu, saying the
developers hadn’t consulted the community.
“There was an outright disregard on the need to carry out public
participation,” Chairman of the National Environment Tribunal Mohammed
Balala said Wednesday in the capital, Nairobi.
The developers will have to conduct a new environmental study and
involve the public if they want to proceed with the project, Balala
“Amu Power has taken note of the concerns raised in the ruling,” the
developer said in an emailed statement without giving further details.
The 1,050 megawatt project is 51% owned by Centum Investment Co. and
backed by General Electric Co.’s Ultra-Supercritical Clean Coal
The coal plant is part of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s strategy to
increase electricity output to power the East African nation’s
industrialization agenda and create jobs.
Save Lamu, a community organization, among other petitioners asked the
tribunal to cancel the EIA license awarded to the project in 2016
because the plant is likely to have a negative impact on human and
marine life.
The petitioners said the developers didn’t consult the community
during the study.
“This is a win for the environment and for the people,” Dudley Ochiel,
a lawyer representing Save Lamu told reporters after the ruling.

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10-year paper maturing in 2028, yield has dropped from 9.38 percent in November to 6.83 percent, while 30-year paper yield of 7.98 percent compared to 10.28 percent seven months ago.
Kenyan Economy

On the 10-year paper maturing in 2028, the yield has dropped from 9.38
percent in November to 6.83 percent, while the 30-year paper maturing
in 2048 has a secondary market yield of 7.98 percent compared to 10.28
percent seven months ago.

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Oil is big factor. Since 2012 Imports = US$14bn to US$18bn. Oil imports which is = 15-20% of the import bill depending on the global price of oil. @WehliyeMohamed
Kenyan Economy

Oil is big factor. Since 2012 exports = US$5.5 to US$6bn. Imports =
US$14bn to US$18bn. Imports dependent on two factors. 1. Capital goods
imports related to large infrastructure projects. 2. Oil imports which
is = 15-20% of the import bill depending on the global price of oil.

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Kenya Shilling versus The Dollar Live ForexPros
Kenyan Economy

Nairobi All Share Bloomberg +5.66% 2019


Nairobi ^NSE20 Bloomberg -6.57% 2019


Every Listed Share can be interrogated here


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by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
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June 2019

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