|Wednesday 17th of July 2019
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"A screaming comes across the sky"
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
“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.’’
@realDonaldTrump's hostility toward minorities and his capacity to signal that hostility to others has never been a secret. This quality is central to his politics and his appeal @NewYorker
Law & Politics
Kip Brown, a driver who worked at one of Trump’s casinos in Atlantic
City, told Nick Paumgarten in The New Yorker, “When Donald and Ivana
came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off
the floor. . . . I was a teen-ager, but I remember it: they put us all
in the back.”
And, like a self-infatuated child, Trump said of his own tweets, “I
used to watch it like a rocket ship when I put out a beauty.”
Over the weekend, Trump put out a beauty, telling his sixty million
Twitter followers that four members of Congress—Ilhan Omar, Ayanna
Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rashida Tlaib—four Democrats
on the left, four women of color, that they should “go back” to the
countries “from which they came” if they were going to keep on
"Do you think that Paul Le Roux is bitcoin creator Satoshi?" WIRED
Law & Politics
In one sense, they’d all come to the right place. I spent five years
tracking Paul Calder Le Roux, a South African pro grammer who built a
global drug and arms dealing empire, and transformed himself into one
of the 21st century’s most prolific and pursued criminals. I’d
obsessively catalogued his life, from his early history as an
encryption coder; through his creation of an online prescription drug
business worth hundreds of millions of dollars; to his diversification
into smuggling, weapons, and violence; to his 2012 capture by, and
cooperation with, the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Along the way he had, among other endeavors, simulta neously fed the
American opioid epidemic; built his own base operations in Somalia,
protected by an armed militia; run gold and timber extraction
operations in a half-dozen African countries; laundered millions of
dollars through Hong Kong; plotted a coup in the Seychelles (later
abandoned); bought off law enforcement in the Philippines, where he
was based; trafficked methamphetamine out of North Korea; and overseen
a team of engineers building missile guidance systems for Iran and
drones for drug delivery.
Whoever Satoshi was, the person (or persons) was sitting on a fortune,
roughly a million bitcoins that analysts estimated Satoshi had mined
at the currency’s inception in 2009. (At current prices that stash
would be worth more than $10 billion.) There had been many attempts to
unmask the creator, unresolved.
'Rhino bond' breaks new ground in conservation finance @FinancialTimes
Investors in the $50m bond will be paid back their capital and a
coupon if African black rhino populations in five sites across Kenya
and South Africa increase over five years. The yield will vary
depending on changes in the rhino population, which has sharply
declined since the 1970s.
The bond is likely to have different categories of investment, with
some investors taking a “first loss” position if rhino population
targets are missed, according to Conservation Capital, the company
arranging the offer.
If rhino numbers drop, those investors will lose their money depending
on the scale of the decline and the terms of their investment while
investors in other categories will be repaid.
Organisers say the structure — a so-called “outcome payments” model
that has been used by other issuers to finance health and education
projects — could revolutionise conservation financing as traditional
donors such as governments and multilateral organisations will
disburse money only on results.
It could also bring the private sector into species protection in a
new way, because the return on investment will comprise both a
financial return and a measurable conservation objective.
“There’s a $1bn-a-day funding shortfall for conservation and the
traditional sources of conservation finance — philanthropists and
donor agencies — are not going to be able to pick up the difference,”
said Giles Davies, chief executive of Conservation Capital.
Black rhino numbers in Africa dwindled to 2,300 in the early 1990s
from more than 63,000 in the 1970s, according to the International
Rhino Foundation. The population is currently around 5,000, but
poaching remains a significant threat.
Dominic Jermey, director-general of the Zoological Society of London,
the charity that runs London Zoo and which is managing the rhino bond
initiative, expressed confidence that the bond would reach its target.
Organisers are hoping to launch it in the first quarter of next year.
“There are vast pools of capital looking for a home and post-Blue
Planet II there’s great interest in sustainable conservation,” he
said, referring to the UK TV documentary series presented by David
Conservation is usually financed either by direct donations or funding
earmarked for specific “outputs”, such as building fences or training
Hurdles for the backers of the rhino bond include persuading investors
to take the upfront risk and convincing traditional donors to agree to
a five-year deferred liability — longer than the usual practice of
three to four years.
“Once you get the change of mindset, people should look at it as a
standard financial instrument,” Mr Jermey said.
Institutional investors are beginning to express interest in the bond.
Marisa Drew, chief executive of the impact advisory and finance
department at Credit Suisse, said the bank saw the bond as a “unique
concept” that unites a range of stakeholders and that the bank was
considering acting as a syndication agent.
“It is this type of innovative financing structure that is needed to
tackle some of our most challenging conservation requirements,” she
The British government is among potential donors that, through the
environment department, has supported preparatory work on the bond.
But no decisions have yet been taken on whether to get involved,
according to a person briefed on the discussions.
Tom Hall, the head of philanthropy services at UBS Wealth Management,
said outcome payments were increasing in popularity, with some $600m
being raised in the past year through the model.
“This has never been done before so the risks are around the ability
of the organisations involved to deliver outcomes,” he said. “It’s not
headline return that’s the challenge but the risk to capital and how
you price that.”
Sudan junta and civilians sign power-sharing deal BBC
It is a "historic moment" for the country, the deputy head of Sudan's
ruling military council, Mohamed Mohamed Hamdan "Hemeti" Dagolo, is
quoted as saying by AFP news agency.
The military seized power in April after deposing Omar al-Bashir.
In clashes with the military which have turned deadly, protesters
demanded the military hand power to civilians.
The two sides agreed to rotate control of the sovereign council - the
top tier of power - for just over three years.
@HEBobiwine to run for Uganda president in 2021 @FinancialTimes's @davidpilling
Bobi Wine, the Ugandan rap singer turned politician, has confirmed he
will challenge Yoweri Museveni for the presidency as an independent in
2021, ending months of speculation about his candidacy.
“We came to the conclusion that we should challenge this regime as a
generation,” Mr Wine told the Financial Times on Monday, having
earlier in the day told Associated Press that he was running.
He told the FT that nearly 50 parliamentarians, including 13 from Mr
Museveni’s own ruling National Resistance Movement, backed his
candidacy, giving him the courage to run.
Mr Wine, 37, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, has built on his
popularity with Uganda’s youth to become the main threat to Mr
Museveni despite the fact he was only elected a member of parliament
Brought up in the capital Kampala’s slum area of Kamwokya, he is
widely known as the “ghetto president”.
The median age of Uganda’s 43m population is 16, younger still than
the median age of 19 across Africa, the world’s most youthful
continent. Mr Museveni, who came to power in 1986 promising to stay in
office for only a short time, is 74.
Uganda’s parliament in 2017 changed the constitution to remove an
upper age limit of 75 on presidential candidates, in effect clearing
the way for Mr Museveni to become president for life. Mr Wine led the
campaign against the constitutional amendment, saying the country
needed fresh blood.
In August 2018, Mr Wine was severely beaten by security forces after
campaigning for an independent candidate in a local election. He was
subsequently charged with treason for an alleged incident in which
stones were thrown at the presidential motorcade, an accusation he
Mr Wine has accused the security forces of trying tried to assassinate
him in a related incident last year in which his driver was fatally
shot. “[Mr Museveni] gave an instruction that I should be eliminated,”
he said. “I know he will try to block me from running as he has not
received any serious challenge in 34 years.”
He said the president might try different manoeuvres to nullify his
candidacy, including raising the minimum age for a presidential
contender to 45.
Mr Wine said he was reaching out to other opposition figures including
Kizza Besigye, leader of the Forum for Democratic Change party, who
ran unsuccessfully against Mr Museveni in elections in 2001, 2006,
2011 and 2016.
Analysts point to Mr Wine’s lack of experience and his loosely defined
political ideology as potential obstacles to his candidacy.
Mr Wine received strong international support after his arrest and
subsequent beating last year, but campaigners for gay rights have
accused him of homophobia.
Lyrics in some of his songs contain what appear to be anti-gay views.
Mr Wine claims he has since renounced those views.
He told the FT this year that he had been misled by religious doctrine
in Uganda, which condemns homosexuality, but that he had since
modified his opinions. “Growing up, I’ve become more respectful and
more tolerant,” he said.
18-FEB-2019 :: #NigeriaDecides
Since President Buhari came to power in May 2015, Nigeria's stock
market has fallen more than any other in the world, dropping 50% in
dollar terms. There is a Message in that performance.
Nigeria's benchmark stock index fell for a fifth day, a slump that underscores foreign investor frustration over a lack of policy progress since President @MBuhari won re-election in February. @markets
The index dropped 0.5% by Tuesday’s close to the lowest since May
2017. It has declined 13% in the five months since Buhari, who is
still to announce his cabinet, was declared the winner of the national
“We are yet to see any major policy direction and foreign investors
are not comfortable with that,” said Ayo Akinyele, an analyst at CSL
Stockbrokers. “We don’t have a new minister of finance -- this is very
critical to investors.”
The Nigeria Stock Exchange All Share Index has dropped 10% this year,
compared with a 15% gain in an index of frontier markets.
Recent central bank steps to push Nigerian banks to increase lending
in a bid to boost the economy is weighing further on sentiment. An
index of local banking stocks has dropped 23% from its 2019 high
reached in February.
“The circular from the central bank actually contributed -- we saw
significant sell-offs in some of the top banks,” said Ayodeji Ebo,
managing director at Afrinvest Securities in Lagos.
More Than Half of Zimbabwe's People Face Hunger, Report Says @markets.
Zimbabwe’s government and donors will need to spend about $218 million
to stave off hunger that could affect 5.5 million people, or 59% of
the population, according to a high-level report.
Drought and a poorly performing economy led to a rise in food
insecurity, according to the report from the Zimbabwe Vulnerability
Assessment Committee, a group comprising government, the World Food
Programme and non-governmental agencies. Harvests between April and
June should see the number of people facing hunger fall to about 3.6
million, most of them in rural areas where people rely on subsistence
The southern African nation will initially need 818,323 metric tons of
cereal, mainly corn, and a further 525,000 tons to see it through to
harvests in 2020, said the group, known as ZimVAC.
Zimbabwe was among three southern African nations hit by poor rainfall
in the 2018-19 season after extreme weather from cyclones to drought