|Friday 25th of October 2019
Brexit's Catch 22: London Awaits EU Move as EU May Wait for U.K @bpolitics
Boris Johnson’s abrupt push for snap elections, and Jeremy Corbyn’s
response that he will only agree if the European Union decides on
Friday to grant a comfortable Brexit extension, has put an obscure
group of Brussels-based diplomats into an awkward position.
The group of EU ambassadors, known as Coreper II, is due to meet
Friday morning, to discuss the length of the third extension due to be
granted to the U.K. The plan was to reach a consensus, allowing the
bloc’s governments to sign off on the recommendation via a written
procedure, without convening a second leaders’ summit in less than two
That was before the British Prime Minister announced on Thursday his
push for an election on Dec. 12 in order to end the Brexit gridlock.
Corbyn, whose backing Johnson needs in order to get the two-thirds
majority required for a national vote, said his decision depends on
the EU’s response.
Both may have to wait, as the EU itself was also seeking clarity from
the U.K. before making a decision.
Four diplomats familiar with the deliberations in Brussels said it’s
unlikely the Coreper -- which stands for Committee of Permanent
Representatives -- will reach a concrete conclusion.
One of the diplomats said that the envoys and their governments are
being dragged into British politics, as any decision puts them at risk
of being blamed for either favoring the opposition or the government’s
view in London.
“Let’s wait and see if there will be an election before we do fiction
politics,” Amelie de Montchalin, France’s junior minister for European
affairs said in an interview with RTL. “If there are elections, not
just called for, but announced and scheduled, then we can take a
At a meeting on Wednesday, all EU27 ambassadors agreed that an
extension should be granted, thus removing the risk of a cliff-edge
exit next week.
But France resisted the majority view of granting a three month
extension, insisting instead on a short delay only to allow the
ratification of the proposed Brexit deal.
The meetings of the Coreper are meant to be preparatory. They aren’t
public, there are no press opportunities and - usually - no
communiques of their conclusion.
They occasionally take place in a secure room, without phones or aides
allowed. While the gatherings have recently drawn the spotlight, with
journalists getting detailed readouts of the discussions on Brexit,
never before have the eyes of an entire country debating snap
elections been so focused on a group barely known to anyone outside
the Brussels bubble.
The final decision on whether to grant an extension -- and if so for
how long -- still lies in the hands of European Council President
Donald Tusk and the unanimous blessing of 27 EU leaders.
OCT 15 :: Putin is a GeoPolitical GrandMaster
Law & Politics
Let us return to UNGA, where Putin set out his stall and I quote: ‘’I
cannot help asking those who have caused the situation, do you realise
now what you’ve done?’’
Putin fancies himself the fly-catcher and syria the fly-trap. The
speed of execution confirms that Russia is once again a geopolitical
actor that will have to be considered. It is a breath-taking rebound.
China's Biggest Meeting of Year Gives Leaders Opportunity to Talk Hong Kong Protests @markets
Law & Politics
China’s ruling Communist Party will hold its most important gathering
of the year from October 28 to 31, state-run Xinhua News Agency said,
giving its leadership an opportunity to discuss issues such the
pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
The plenum -- a full meeting of the Communist Party’s Central
Committee -- is a venue to pass decisions on major topics and involves
more than 200 party leaders from the government, military and
The committee will discuss key issues related to maintaining and
improving China’s socialist system and national governance, Xinhua
reported in August.
While the meeting comes at a point in the party’s five-year political
cycle that’s usually reserved for setting economic policies, the
earlier Xinhua report suggested an agenda that was more political.
On Tuesday, a front page commentary on the People’s Daily, the party’s
mouthpiece, reviewed the progress in judicial reform and the law-based
governance since the last Fourth Plenum of The Central Committee in
2014 during Xi Jinping’s first term.
Such long format commentary is usually seen ahead of the the party’s
major political events.
The plenum will be the fourth Central Committee conclave since Xi
secured a second term as the party’s general secretary in October
The committee hasn’t convened since recommending an end to the
constitutional limits on Xi’s tenure in February 2018.
The party hasn’t gone so long without such a meeting since late
paramount leader Deng Xiaoping launched his “Reform and Opening Up”
campaign more than 40 years ago.
Policy makers are also grappling with a trade war with the U.S., which
has exacerbated an economic slowdown as both sides levy tariffs on
each other’s goods.
Data released last week showed an economy expanding at just 6%, the
slowest in almost three decades, though there were also signs things
could be stabilizing, including corporate demand for long-term credit
picking up and growth in auto sales contracting less.
The two sides are also moving closer toward a partial deal that could
The early hints of stabilization give the authorities a chance to
debate some long-term issues at the meeting, such as a graying
population and the merits of freer internal migration of labor.
These reforms could be more important than imminent policy loosening
in ensuring a steady performance of the economy in the longer term.
In many respects this is more important than
21-OCT-2019 :: "The New Economy of Anger".
Law & Politics
The real time Feed is a c21st Netflix and is both unputdownable and
incendiary. From Chile where Protestors burned down the headquarters
of ENEL [The Electricity Generating Co] after a proposed Price
increase and a state of Emergency has been imposed. All over Latin
America from Peru to Ecuador to Haiti to Honduras, Demonstrators have
taken to the Streets. The IMF cut the projected economic growth rate
for Latin America from 1.4 percent to 0.6 percent, citing domestic
policies and the U.S.-China trade war and clearly nose-diving economic
opportunity is creating tinder-dry conditions. Of course, no country
is as extreme as Venezuela where GDP is down from $350bn in 2012 to an
estimated $60bn in 2019. People have been pushed to the Edge and are
taking to the Streets.
Paul Virilio pronounced in his book Speed and Politics, “The
revolutionary contingent attains its ideal form not in the place of
production, but in the street, where for a moment it stops being a cog
in the technical machine and itself becomes a motor (machine of
attack), in other words a producer of speed.’’
This Phenomenon about which I am speaking is not limited to Latin
America. We have recently witnessed the ''WhatsApp'' Revolution in
Lebanon, where a proposed Tax on WhatsApp calls sent up to 17% of the
Lebanese Population into the street. Iraq is on a Knife Edge. Millions
of Algerians sent the wheelchair bound Bouteflika home not too long
ago. Hong Kong remains in open rebellion and trying to shake off the
''Crusher of Bones'' Xi Jinping and his Algorithmic Control.
The Phenomenon is spreading like wildfire in large part because of the
tinder dry conditions underfoot. Prolonged Stand-Offs eviscerate
economies, reducing opportunities and accelerate the negative Feedback
Antonio Gramsci wrote “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that
the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a
great variety of morbid symptoms appear....now is the time of
This level of unhappiness is unprecedented in a time of ''Peace'' and
in a time when our august Financial Institutions keep touting about
how it has never been so good for the Human Race.
Dr. Célestin Monga in a recent piece characterised the situation thus
The Great Discordance ''the planet is filled with rage and anger''
The New Economy of Anger ''Anger and discontent levels around the
world are high, despite the fact that most available indicators of
political and economic progress are better than they have even been''
Leadership in the c21st has become nationalistic and jingoistic,
horizons have been narrowed. President Trump is not John F Kennedy. Xi
Jinping is all about Han China. Narendra Modi is all about the
Hindutva. Boris is all about Brexit. In Africa, other than the Nobel
Prize Winner Abiy, who else is sketching out a horizon? Todays
leadership does not appreciate the humanity of all of its Citizens,
how can they appreciate the humanity of the World or as
Marshall McLuhan once put it
“There are no passengers on the Spaceship Earth. We are all crew.”
Ryszard Kapuściński wrote
“Revolution must be distinguished from revolt, coup d’état, palace
takeover. A coup or a palace takeover may be planned, but a
revolution—never. Its outbreak, the hour of that outbreak, takes
everyone, even those who have been striving for it, unawares. They
stand amazed at the spontaneity that appears suddenly and destroys
everything in its path. It demolishes so ruthlessly that in the end it
may annihilate the ideals that called it into being.”
This is a Revolution and it is a Global Phenomenon.
Ryszard Kapucinski also said: "If the crowd disperses, goes home, does
not reassemble, we say the revolution is over."
It is not over. More and more People are gathering in the Streets.
Unless we are now going to Xinjiang the Whole World [A Million People
Are Jailed at China's Gulags. I Managed to Escape. Here's What Really
Goes on Inside @haaretzcom “Children are being taken from their
parents, who are confined in concentration camps, and being put in
Chinese orphanages,” he says. “Women in the camps are receiving
inoculations that make them infertile''], the current modus operandi
is running on empty.
@facebook is a publishing platform. It must accept some responsibility for the quality of information it feeds its users @esquire
Law & Politics
It's a Silicon Valley behemoth that has seized on the refusal—or
incapability—of lawmakers from both parties to regulate it and
stretched its tentacles every which way while accepting little of the
responsibility that comes with growing so large and so powerful.
That came to a head in the 2016 election, when the platform became a
prime source of political information in America. Outlets and sources
that abide by journalistic standards leaned on it to reach customers,
which made them dependent on Facebook for web traffic and the
advertising revenue that comes with it. (This did not end well.) But
actual Fake News sources—like the infamous kids in Macedonia or the
Russian disinformation campaign—also saw potential in the platform.
One of the top stories of the entire 2016 campaign had the headline,
"Pope Francis shocks world, endorses Donald Trump for president."
Obviously, this did not happen.
Facebook (along with Google) has assumed the role of informational
gatekeeper in our society, one formerly held by major news networks
and newspapers. Except it has assumed none of the responsibility that
comes with that, refusing, in any consistent way, to filter the
information served to great masses of people based on quality and
accuracy. The result is that the Facebook-using public has been
exposed to a firehose of misinformation, including some served up by
people trying to undermine our democracy. It is poisoning us.
The basic fact is that Facebook is a publisher pretending not to be so
that it can set whatever standards it wants for the quality of
information on its platform without consequence. It just so happens
these standards happen to value engagement and ad revenue over
accuracy. We as a people will have to decide if we enjoy having the
body politic poisoned day after day in the interests of Facebook
shareholders. We should also decide whether a company as big and
monopolistic as Facebook—or Google, or Amazon, or Apple—should be
allowed to exist at all.
26-MAR-2018 :: Sell @Facebook @TheStarKenya
Law & Politics
“We just put information into the bloodstream to the internet and then
watch it grow, give it a little push every now and again over time to
watch it take shape. And so this stuff infiltrates the online
community and expands but with no branding – so it’s unattributable,
“It’s no use fighting elections on the facts; it’s all about emotions.”
“So the candidate is the puppet?” the undercover reporter asked.
“Always,” replied Nix.
In an extraordinary boomerang, The US’ adversaries have turned social
media on its head and used it as a ‘’Tro- jan Horse’’ via
psychographic profiling and micro-targeting at a mass scale.
The fundamental challenge for Facebook is this: It has represented
itself as an ‘’Infomediary’’ An infomediary works as a personal agent
on behalf of consumers to help them take control over information
gathered about them. The concept of the infomediary was first
suggested by John Hagel III in the book Net Worth.
However, Facebook has been hawking this information as if it were an
intermediary. This is its ‘’trust gap’’. That gap is set to widen
further. Facebook is facing an existentialist crisis.
Since his death 44 years ago, Franco's body has reposed inside a vast, imposing basilica in the Valley of the Fallen, some 50 kilometres (30 miles) northwest of Madrid
Law & Politics
Since his death 44 years ago, Franco's body has reposed inside a vast,
imposing basilica in the Valley of the Fallen, some 50 kilometres (30
miles) northwest of Madrid, which has long attracted both tourists and
Ahead of the operation, 22 members of the late dictator's family
arrived at the site carrying wreathes to witness the exhumation, which
began shortly before 11 am (0900 GMT).
Justice Minister Dolores Delgado was also on hand to represent the
government, but no journalists were allowed in.
16-SEP-2019: "There's always more to it. This is what history consists of. It is the sum total of the things they aren't telling us."
Law & Politics
Last week was the Anniversary of 9/11 and it is increasingly apparent
that More Americans are questioning the Official 9/11 Story As New
Evidence contradicts the Official Narrative [MintPress News]
The overwhelming evidence presented now demonstrates beyond any doubt
that pre-planted explosives and/or incendiaries — not just airplanes
and the ensuing fires — caused the destruction of the three World
Trade Center buildings, killing the vast majority of the victims who
perished that day. The Official Narrative around the assassination of
JFK has been similarly debunked. Two great American Writers have
touched on this
Don DeLillo in his book Libra "There is a world inside the world."
"There's always more to it. This is what history consists of. It is
the sum total of the things they aren't telling us."
Thomas Pynchon in Bleeding Edge “No matter how the official narrative
of this turns out," it seemed to Heidi, "these are the places we
should be looking, not in newspapers or television but at the margins,
graffiti, uncontrolled utterances, bad dreamers who sleep in public
and scream in their sleep.”
The Crypto Avocado Millenial Economy
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.
Tunisia's new president: how memes and viral videos led to a "Robocop" revolution @1843mag
As the exit polls from the first round of the Tunisian presidential
election emerged, a video from 2013 went viral. It showed the inside
of a radio studio, its walls shaking as if hit by an earthquake. A
journalist clutches the table before backing against the wall to
steady himself. There is screaming. But the guest, the newly elected
president of Tunisia, Kais Saied, barely flinches. He sits there,
stony faced. Then he checks his watch.
Such composure when faced with this fake disaster, a hidden camera
prank played on a number of Tunisian public figures during Ramadan,
made an impression. “They could do that with a thousand politicians
and no one would react like Kais,” says Khayreddine Debaya, a
30-year-old engineer and Saied evangelist. The reaction of many
viewers was less “you got punked” and more, as Debaya put it, that
this was “someone intelligent who reacts quickly and analyses
situations”. The cult of “Robocop”, as this charmless populist has
become known, grew stronger.
In a prophetic viral video that has 137,000 views, shared on Facebook
two days before the second round of voting, Saied’s head is
superimposed onto the body of the classic computer-game character
Super Mario as he charges his way to victory, jumping on the heads of
his rivals and powering up thanks to a magic mushroom captioned “les
jeunes” (the young). It wasn't a surprise that in the final round of
voting he won 90% of the votes from 18 to 25-year-olds. Taking 73%
overall, Saied – not long ago a political outsider – trounced his
opponent, Nabil Karoui, a media mogul. He owes a portion of his
success to viral videos such as these. Despite his awkwardness and
digital illiteracy, or perhaps because of it, Saied has been
catapulted to power by a youth movement fuelled by an anarchic
grassroots social-media campaign.
Songs from the revolution echoed through the capital when the results
dropped. The landslide result was a rejection of Tunisia’s ruling
elite and a rebuke to the governments that have led the country since
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the dictator who ruled from 1987 to 2011, was
ousted. Since then, governments have failed to deliver meaningful
change: corruption is endemic and the economy has faltered. Karoui,
who spent much of his election campaign in jail waiting for a verdict
in his trial for money laundering and tax evasion, is seen as corrupt
and linked to the old regime. Saied, who has no political party, is
outside the system. Tunisian flags adorned the main avenue. Fireworks
went off and car horns honked. In front of the municipal theatre
leftists, Islamists and first-time voters belted out slogans from the
2011 uprising, football chants and the national anthem. The euphoria
on the street made up for the lack of joy in Saied’s glassy grey
eyes.The 61-year-old, non-partisan, socially conservative law lecturer
has become a cult figure among young people in Tunisia. He stands
straight as an arrow and speaks his own version of classical Arabic,
instead of the usual Tunisian dialect. Though Saied never completed
his doctoral thesis, fans refer to him as “the professor”. His frugal
campaign and painfully monotonous demeanour add to his aura of
incorruptibility. Saied first engaged with politics at the Casbah
sit-ins, a mass protest after the revolution which ousted the interim
government made up of ministers from the old regime. In the years that
followed, he quietly travelled around the country to join protests and
youth gatherings, and to chat to people in cafés about his vision of a
decentralised Tunisian state. People would often suggest that he run
Even before his electoral success, “Kais Saied” had become online
shorthand for moral authority, thanks to his TV interviews about the
post-revolution constitution. “You might have a debate between two
people and someone will post a picture of Saied to stop the debate and
say that he is right,” says Nader Mathlouthi, a blogger in Tunis.
Another recent meme consists of photos of Said’s face each labelled
with with a different emotion: “happy”, “sad”, “angry” and “high”.
Hecham Khabouba, a 19-year-old student, loves him. “Weird people are
sometimes cool,” he said.
But the keyboard activists were also serious and organised. Many
Facebook groups both secret and open to the public encouraged support
for Saied, who doesn’t even have a Facebook account himself (though he
says he uses Google sometimes). Kooora Tunisie, which has 229,000
followers, started out as a page for football fans (koora means
football in Arabic). The group became politicised at the time of the
revolution before being mobilised in support of Saied. Members of The
People’s Campaign to Support Kais Saied group, which boasts 34,000
followers, share motivational messages, clips that denigrate his
opponents and earnestly Photoshopped images. One shows Kais Saied
floating above the Tunis skyline surrounded by a heart drawn in the
sky by an aeroplane. The groups also serve a practical function. In
one, a post organising car shares to take young people back to the
towns where they are registered to vote was shared over 7,000 times by
the eve of the election. The scale and power of this online army was
demonstrated when a boycott campaign resulted in the Elhiwar Ettounsi
TV channel losing 1m followers from its Facebook page in a matter of
hours after the owner insulted Saied.
The same digital groups that helped overthrow Ben Ali gave Saied a
hand too, says Bader Ben Mansour, a scholar of political
communications at the University of Laval. Digital social movements
have bolstered radical leaders elsewhere. Online communities and
groups set up around Occupy Wall Street have supported one of the
candidates for the Democrat presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders.
In Spain there was an organic link between the Indignados
(anti-austerity) movement online and left-wing Podemos campaign.
Though politically they differ greatly, the memes that affectionately
mock Saied are evocative of the fandom that developed around the
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn among young people in Britain.
Some of Saied’s young supporters are concerned about his socially
conservative views. He has opposed the legalisation of homosexuality
and equal inheritance rights for women. Debaya, who is also active in
human-rights organisations, acknowledges this is a concern. “Kais
isn’t perfect and no one represents you 100%,” he says. “It will be
our role after the election as activists [to fight for individual
rights].” LGBT groups have voiced stronger criticism. Mounir Baatour,
who campaigned as Tunisia’s first openly gay presidential candidate
and is the founder of the LGBT organisation Shams, has described Saied
as a “dangerous person for our community”.
Once in office Saied will have constitutionally limited powers. Most
decisions regarding domestic affairs are taken by parliament where he
has no party and could easily become isolated. For his detractors and
voters for whom the new president was simply the lesser of two evils,
this comes as a relief. But his supporters fed up with the
establishment are hoping for a revolution.
January 15, 2011 Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution CS Monitor
"We are not afraid, we are not afraid, we are afraid only of God," the
crowds chanted on Tuesday in Tunis.
“In too many places, in too many ways, the region’s foundations are
sinking into the sand,” said Secretary Hillary Clinton. “Those who
cling to the status quo may be able to hold back the full impact of
their countries’ problems for a little while, but not forever, If
leaders don’t offer a positive vision and give young people meaningful
ways to contribute, others will fill the vacuum.”
I recall a friend and an ambassador telling me, "Aly-Khan, the
revolution is coming. The question is, can it be managed?"
And this Jasmine Revolution will amplify two ways: through the Maghreb
and towards the holy cities of Saudi Arabia. The question remains the
degree of the amplification. And it would be naive to expect that it
might not cross the Sahara and head south.
Change is never incremental, it tips and surges
John Donne wrote:
"...Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee..."
Thousands in Guinea march against president's possible third term bid @ReutersAfrica
Protesters chanted “Amoulanfe” - “It will not happen” in the local
Susu language - and “Free the prisoners” on their way to the capital
Conakry’s largest stadium.
The march was organised by the National Front for the Defence of the
Constitution (FNDC), a coalition of politicians and activists opposed
to a constitutional change that could let Conde seek a third term.
The peaceful, albeit heavily policed, protests were held in number of
cities across the West African country.
Guinea, with a population of nearly 13 million, is Africa’s biggest
bauxite producer and is host to international mining companies.
On Tuesday, twelve FNDC leaders were sentenced to up to a year in
prison for organising previous rallies in which nine people were
killed. Last week, police opened fire on protesters as they ransacked
military posts and blocked roads.
“We want him (Conde) to free the jailed leaders before any negotiation
happens. Then Alpha needs to say he will not be a candidate,”
Algassimou Diallo, who marched in Conakry wearing the rally’s official
red colour, told Reuters.
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.
Frelimo takes no chances Despite claims that the election was won through fraud and violence, the results will stand and strengthen the President's hand @Africa_Conf
President Filipe Nyusi has won a second and final term of office with
the second-largest majority since multi-party elections began in 1994.
The election win – which included parliamentary and municipal polls –
is tainted by widespread accusations of fraud and unprecedented
intimidation prompting fears that the fragile peace accord between the
ruling Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo)and opposition
Resistencia Nacional Moçambicana (Renamo) could break down. Despite
acknowledgement among observers, donors and diplomats that Frelimo's
election win is corrupt, there is little prospect that Renamo's appeal
for the polls to be annulled will succeed.The final results will be
published on 28 October and are expected to confirm President Nyusi
won about 70% of the total votes. The figure was only previously
topped by his predecessor, Armando Guebuza, who gained 75% in 2005,
but it comes against a background of growing anti-Frelimo sentiment
among the electorate, especially in the wake of the US$2 billion
hidden loans scandal of 2016, a growing violent insurgency in the
north, mishandling of the Cyclone Idai emergency and state corruption
scandals across the board. The leader of Renamo, Ossufo Momade, came a
distant second in the presidential contest with a projected 21% of the
vote, and Daviz Simango of the Movimento Democrático de Moçambique
(MDM) may gain only 7%, according to preliminary results.
Manipulation on this scale was not necessary in order for Frelimo to
win, but the party was leaving nothing to chance and no expense was
spared. Disillusioned party members came under heavy pressure to vote.
Insiders say more than $40 million was spent on the campaign – far
more than the $15m at play during the 2014 campaign. Voters were given
cash for their votes all over the country. This was thanks, at least
in part, to the completion of the sale of US oil company Anadarko to
Occidental Petroleum, which in turn sold on Anadarko's African assets
to France's Total, which was announced on 27 September by Nyusi. It
brought with it the prospect of an $880m capital gains tax windfall.
Frelimo is believed to have used the promise of this new cash to
allocate more of the funds of the state to its campaign – a fact Nyusi
all but admitted at a rally two days later, when he said the extra
funds would boost the election budget because 'democracy costs money'.
In reality, the beneficiary was Frelimo.
Nyusi is stronger now too. Internally, he is already seen as having
significantly strengthened his grip over the party, and his victory
convinced many party members who previously doubted his leadership. He
has escaped from the shadow of Guebuza, who was conspicuously absent
during the campaign, and has asserted his own control. Such is his
transformation from inexperienced managerial figure to shrewd
statesman that observers are beginning to see him as now one of the
strongest leaders in the Southern African Development Community
region. He is driving international deals that he believes are in the
country's interests and his own, notably a growing alliance with
Russia. Russian mercenaries last month began operations against
Islamist insurgents in the north. Nyusi can be expected to return from
the Russia-Africa summit in Sochi with more deals and a powerful ally
in President Vladimir Putin.
Zimbabwe Declares Holiday to Protest Against U.S. Sanctions @bpolitics
Zimbabweans will stay home Friday after their government declared a
public holiday, saying people should demonstrate against U.S.
sanctions rather than work.
Sanctions against some individuals in the ruling Zimbabwe African
National Union-Patriotic Front and businesses associated with them
were imposed back in 2003.
The U.S. has made periodic amendments to include people the State
Department believes are responsible for human-rights abuses or
enriching themselves at the country’s expense.
The sanctions are “an act of terrorism against Zimbabwe,” said
Zanu-PF’s spokesman, Simon Khaya Moyo. Zimbabwe has received more than
$3 billion in U.S. aid since 1980 and at least $300 million this year
alone, the U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols said in an
interview with newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube that was posted on the
U.S. embassy’s Twitter page.
The U.S. is Zimbabwe’s single-biggest donor. Despite diplomatic
tension between the two countries, American aid kept Zimbabweans from
starvation after former president Robert Mugabe authorized the often
violent seizure of about 90% of all white-owned farms between 2000 and
2012. That cost the country millions of jobs and saw farm exports
“Our targeted sanctions are not responsible for Zimbabwe falling
tragically short of its potential. The fault lies in the catastrophic
mismanagement by those in power and the government’s own abuse of its
citizens,” Nichols tweeted Thursday.
Kenya's Mombasa port to upgrade four berths at 20 bln shillings @ReutersAfrica
MOMBASA, Kenya, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Kenya’s port of Mombasa will spend
20 billion shillings ($193 million) to modernise four berths to handle
both container cargo and goods not packed in containers, the head of
the state port operator said.
The port, built in 1895, is the main trade gateway for the Eastern
Africa region, serving Kenya and seven neighbours, including Uganda,
Somalia, Rwanda and South Sudan.
The investment is driven by growing demand for imported cargo in the
region, where most economies are growing by at least 5% per year, said
Daniel Manduku, the managing director of the Kenya Ports Authority
Exports make up just 15% of the cargo that goes through Mombasa every
year, with a third of the total belonging to neighbouring countries,
while Kenya, the region’s biggest economy, takes up the lion’s share.
Annual cargo traffic through the port is projected to jump to 47
million tonnes in 2025 from 32 million tonnes last year, Manduku said
in an interview at the port.
“We are currently undertaking major expansion programmes... We are
trying to be ahead of the game.”
The volume of cargo handled is expected to rise to 34 million tonnes
this year, including 1.4 million 20-foot containers. Popular imports
include clinker for cement manufacturing, steel, fertiliser and
The European Investment Bank and French development agency AFD have
offered to finance the modernisation of the berths at commercial
rates, Manduku said.
“We think it is something we should consider, as opposed to normal
commercial bank loans,” he said, adding that work will start in
Mombasa port, ranked Africa’s fifth busiest according to the KPA after
Morocco’s Tangier Med, Egypt’s Port Said, South Africa’s Durban and
Nigeria’s Lagos, wants to rise to number three, Manduku said, without
giving a timeframe.
KPA is spending an additional 39 billion shillings to build a new oil
terminal, to replace its existing facility that dates back to 1968.
China Communication Construction Co. is the contractor for the
project, which will triple the port’s annual capacity for oil and
liquid gas to 1 million tonnes.
“The demand for liquid oil is high,” Manduku said, adding the facility
could also help with Kenya’s crude oil exports.
Britain’s Tullow Oil and partners, including the Kenyan government,
are expected to make a final investment decision on crude oil
production from fields in the far northern county of Turkana next
Current investments by KPA are part of a 310 billion shilling ports
investment program, aimed at boosting annual capacity to 110 million
tonnes by 2040, Manduku said.
This includes 55 billion shillings for building three berths at a new
port in Lamu on Kenya’s northernmost coastline, close to the Somalia
Construction is expected to be completed in the next year and 10
foreign firms, including from Singapore and China, have expressed
interest in running the new port by leasing it from the government,
“We are thinking of giving it to a private sector player on a
concession model,” he said.
06-AUG-2018 :: The Indian Ocean Economy and a Port Race
Today from Massawa, Eritrea [admittedly on the Red Sea] to Djibouti,
from Berbera to Mogadishu, from Lamu to Mombasa to Tanga to Bagamoyo
to Dar Es Salaam, through Beira and Maputo all the way to Durban and
all points in between we are witnessing a Port race of sorts as
everyone seeks to get a piece of the Indian Ocean Port action. China
[The BRI initiative], the Gulf Countries [who now appear to see the
Horn of Africa as their hinter- land], Japan and India [to a lesser
degree] are all jostling for optimal ‘’geo-economic’’ positioning.
From hotbed of crime to joggers' paradise: Nairobi forest thrives @AFP @YahooNews
"We would collect dead, dumped bodies. Some were decomposing... others
were fresh," said John Chege of his early days policing Nairobi's
Karura Forest, back when thieves and murderers outnumbered joggers and
dog walkers in the woods.
Karura then was the stuff of urban legend, a fearsome place invoked to
scare misbehaving children. Chege and his scouts, stumbling on corpses
by day, kept white-knuckled vigils by night as they scanned the
darkness for intruders.
"It was hell," Chege told AFP of his hair-raising first months as
Karura's inaugural chief scout, back in 2009 when efforts began to
reclaim the forest. "But today we celebrate, because there is nothing
of the sort."
In the space of 10 years, Karura has gone from a dangerous no man's
land to one of Nairobi's safest and most popular destinations, a
verdant refuge in a city that has long carried the unfortunate moniker
Karura is also a symbol against land-grabbing, having been saved from
developers to become the world's second-largest forest that is fully
within city limits, conservationists say.
Kenya's forests are cleared at a rate of 5,000 hectares (12,300 acres)
a year, the environment ministry said in 2018. But Karura has
survived, even as green spaces are being swallowed by concrete in one
of Africa's fastest-growing cities.
From zero visitors in 2009, today Karura attracts up to 30,000 nature
lovers a month, with 10-year commemorative events planned in October
to mark its striking transformation and storied history.
For many years, hardly anyone came, said Karanja Njoroge, who chaired
Friends of Karura Forest, a community group that co-manages the
reserve, from 2011 to 2018.
Shaking its reputation was a challenge, even after an electric fence
was raised around the perimeter.
"Karura Forest in 2009 was a place where no one would even want to be
threatened to be taken. It meant either you were going to be killed,
or that you were going to be punished," Njoroge said.
Chege and his scouts, who were trained by the British army, could not
convince nervous joggers they would be safe, and so ran alongside them
in khaki fatigues.
"Perhaps a visitor wanted to run 10 kilometres? My guy was to run 10
kilometres," he said.
Slowly, visitor numbers grew as the criminals were flushed out. A
clubhouse, long abandoned because patrons kept getting mugged,
reopened its doors. Women felt safe enough to run on their own, Chege
Local communities were vital in bolstering security.
Chege, a former illegal logger, was recruited from Huruma, a slum on
Karura's northern fringe. The community used the forest for firewood,
and as a rubbish tip and open toilet.
Today, they are its custodians, planting saplings, clearing weeds and
policing its borders.
Karura narrowly escaped destruction in the late 1990s when, crawling
with bandits and ravaged by logging, developers gifted parcels of
forest to politically connected elites.
The upland forest is a developers dream: 1,000 hectares of prime land,
straddled by Nairobi's most exclusive suburbs.
Wangari Maathai, the late founder of Kenya's Green Belt Movement, and
the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, rallied church
leaders, lawyers and students to Karura's defence.
In January 1999, armed thugs attacked Maathai as she tried to plant
seedlings in an act of protest, landing her in hospital.
The violence made international headlines and outraged a public tired
of corrupt elites grabbing state land.
The protesters won the day: development was halted.
- Green icon -
The forest still bears the scars of this violent past. Bald tracts of
forest cleared for mansions abut thriving black wattle -- a tree whose
growth was spurred by fires from the days protesters burned tractors
in defiance, Chege said.
But its tranquility is not assured.
Other forests, such as Oloolua in Nairobi's south, have suffered from
rampant encroachment. Even the city's iconic national wildlife park is
being sliced through with a railway whose construction began last year
in defiance of a court order.
Though Chege worries more about dogs off leashes these days than
dealing with dead bodies, a road being widened on Karura's eastern
border has raised concerns.
Land grabs are not a distant threat. In July, a court ruled against a
private company trying to claim 4.3 hectares of Karura.
"If everybody who wants to build keeps chipping away, there will be
very little left," Njoroge said.
Karura persists as a conservation triumph. Native trees are taking
back the forest from species introduced by the British to fuel their
railway to Uganda, notably eucalyptus trees.
Before conservation efforts began, non-native trees, many of them
invasive, made up 60 percent of the forest. Eucalyptus in particular
inhibit the growth of other plants and monopolise the water supply
with their voracious thirst.
The forest contains rivers, waterfalls and caves used by anti-colonial
rebels. Joggers encounter bushbucks, hornbills and Syke's monkeys.
Maathai's daughter, Wanjira Mathai, said her mother would be proud of
what Karura has become, "and maybe even surprised at just how much
people love it".
"She had hoped her children's children -- my generation and our
children -- would enjoy this forest, and that's what has come to
pass," Mathai told AFP.
One of north Kenya's largest tuskers, a celebrated African savanna elephant called Matt, has sadly died. @ste_kenya
One of north Kenya’s largest tuskers, a celebrated African savanna
elephant called Matt, has sadly died.
Matt, who was aged 52 and one of Kenya’s well-known elephant elders,
apparently died from natural causes.
During his lifetime he roamed further than any other Kenya elephant
tracked by Save the Elephants, nearly circumventing Mount Kenya from
Meru all the way to Laikipa, a continuous east to west loop of
approximately 245 km.
His travels also took him northward across Samburu for a stretch of 220 km.
His body was found by the Northern Rangelands Trust 9-1 anti-poaching
unit on Monday October 7, and reported to the Kenya Wildlife Service.
Measuring 10 feet tall at the shoulder and weighing over 6 tons, Save
the Elephants first collared Matt with a GPS tracking collar in 2002
so researchers could monitor and study his behaviour and rangers could
protect him from poachers. Matt’s range turned out to span all the way
from Meru National Park on the Tana River, through three national
reserves including Samburu, and half a dozen community conservancies
to the west of the elephants’ range. With his large size and
spectacular tusks, Matt survived and thrived during the high risk
poaching epidemic a decade ago – a testament to his adaptation and
local knowledge. The crisis killed an estimated 100,000 elephants
across Africa in just three years, between 2010 and 2012.
Matt was no ordinary bull. His curiosity always kept researchers on
their toes and he was a master at shredding tracking collars that kept
him in the spotlight. Matt’s last collar was fitted in March 2016, and
for the next three years (until last week) his position was recorded
every hour for his protection and for the collection of important