|Wednesday 20th of November 2019
Financial markets are a "Bot" World with Bots trading with each other. There is clearly a convergence with computational propaganda.
The University of Oxford’s Computational Propaganda Research project
produced a piece that spoke of ‘’the use of algorithms, automation,
and big data to shape public life – is becoming a pervasive and
ubiquitous part of everyday life.
Cambridge Analytica’s now-infamous Andrew Nix said “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
And so this stuff infiltrates the online community and expands but
with no branding – so it’s unattribu- table, untraceable.”So the
candidate is the puppet?” the undercover reporter asked. “Always,”
Iran Unrest Raises a Question: Is 'Maximum Pressure' Working? @bpolitics
Law & Politics
Anti-government protests in Iran have left buses and banks burned,
hundreds under arrest, the Internet blocked and an unconfirmed number
of people dead.
That raises the question of whether the Trump administration’s
“maximum pressure’’ campaign is starting to deliver.
The unrest was sparked by Tehran’s decision last week to both ration
and raise the price of gasoline. But there was ready tinder to be lit,
consisting of the sorts of frustrations that have stoked violence
around the globe in recent months, from Bolivia, Chile and Venezuela,
to Hong Kong, Iraq and Lebanon.
The protests, according to Afshin Molavi, a senior fellow at the
Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced
International Studies, “are the culmination of rising anger at what is
perceived to be a corrupt, out-of-touch ruling class that has
consistently failed to deliver on the economy or jobs amid allegations
of billions of dollars of corruption.’’
In Washington and Tehran, officials view the protests through the
prism of tensions over Iran’s growing influence in the Shiite
populated nations of the Middle East.
Those frictions have picked up since President Donald Trump pulled the
U.S. out of the 2015 nuclear deal, a pact which had traded limits on
Iran’s nuclear fuel program for a relaxation of international
On Sunday, a spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry blamed the protests
on U.S.-backed “saboteurs.’’ Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said
that “all the centers of the world’s wickedness against us’’ were
cheering at the scenes of violence.
The White House issued a statement in support of the protests, which
it said were caused by the regime’s diversion of funds from the
domestic economy to pay for the “fanatical’’ pursuit of an alleged
nuclear weapons program and for terrorism.
Yet this isn’t the first time that a reduction in subsidies has caused
demonstrations in Iran, and none to date toppled the government. What
made last weekend different, according to Ali Vaez of the
Brussels-based International Crisis Group, was just how quickly
authorities in Tehran moved to use extreme force – including live
ammunition – to suppress them.
That was because the regime feels under siege from U.S sanctions as
well as protests which are challenging Iranian interests in Iraq and
Leaders in Tehran fear the U.S. and its allies in the region would
interpret any sign of Iranian compromise as weakness, according to
“The system still has the will to survive and a fearsome capacity to
quell opposition,’’ he said. “I have serious doubts as to whether this
will produce the outcomes that the Trump administration wants.’’
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said on Monday the U.S. would end
the sanctions waiver it had continued to issue for Iran’s Fordow
reactor, a move he said was the result of Tehran’s continuing
enrichment in violation of the 2015 deal.
"The Islamic Republic must cease violence against its own people and
should immediately restore the ability of all Iranians to access a
free and open Internet," Pompeo said. "The world’s watching."
Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei said on Tuesday that Internet
access would be restored when officials were confident the unrest had
ceased and that the access would not be "misused."
The U.S. has been ambiguous about whether the ultimate goal of its
policy is to force regime change or a shift in Iran’s behavior.
Currently it supports Hezbollah and Hamas against Israel, supplies
militias in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, and pursues uranium enrichment and
ballistic missile capabilities.
But there’s little doubt that Trump’s “maximum pressure’’ strategy has
hurt the Iranian economy. The crude oil exports on which Iran relies
for much of its hard currency earnings have fallen to about 250,000
barrels per day, from a peak of 2.5 million barrels per day in April
That has made unaffordable the $69 billion that, according to the
Paris-based International Energy Agency, Iran spent on energy
subsidies in 2018.
The International Monetary Fund has forecast a 9.5% contraction for
Iran this year, amid 36% inflation that’s eating away at incomes.
Before the government blocked Internet connections at the weekend,
protesters were captured on social media complaining about a lack of
job prospects and chanting slogans such as “down with the dictator.’’
Unlike Bolivia, however, where then-President Evo Morales fled to
Mexico after the army chief called on him to resign, there is no sign
that Iran’s rulers are losing the support of the Iranian Revolutionary
Guard Corps, or of the Basij militias that were deployed to crush much
wider anti-government demonstrations in 2009.
And instead of reining in its foreign policy ambitions, Iran has
responded to U.S. pressure by trying to strengthen its hand, reviving
the stalled nuclear fuel program, attacking tanker traffic in the
Strait of Hormuz and conducting a drone and missile strike on Saudi
Arabia that temporarily halted 5% of global oil supply.
Iran denies responsibility for the missile attack.
A recent study by the London-based International Institute for
Strategic Studies detailed the extraordinary success Iran has had in
extending its regional influence, by enlisting Shiite militias -- from
Afghanistan to Iraq -- to help fight for its interests against much
better armed and resourced opponents.
Equally, hundreds of pages of Iranian intelligence agency documents
published by The Intercept and New York Times on Monday shed light on
the extent to which Iran penetrated Iraq’s state institutions since
its U.S. occupation, triggering the recent Iraqi nationalist backlash
even among fellow Shiites.
Sanctions alone are unlikely to deter Iran, according to John Raine, a
senior adviser to the IISS who worked on the study. While it is
difficult to calculate exactly how much policies in Iraq, Lebanon,
Syria, and Yemen have cost the Iranian budget, there’s little evidence
of any sudden change in activity or funding either before, during or
after the 2015 nuclear deal briefly lifted sanctions.
By now, collaborating with militias has probably become more useful to
the government than its ballistic missile or nuclear programs, Raine
said. “That has been possible only because there was no push back, no
consequences” from the West.
Law & Politics
What we know is this: Iran is at the Hunter S. Thompson[Ian] edge.
“There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who
really know where it is are the ones who have gone over''
if the US thinks that Tehran will just roll over, which appears to be
the case, then they are exhibiting the same deluded ideas that they
exhibited a day before the peacock Throne got plucked. Iran is a
geopolitical bleeding edge.
@HSBC Says British Pound May Soar. Or Crash @markets
The outcome of Britain’s election next month poses a binary choice for
the nation’s currency, according to the largest U.K. bank.
“Nothing is priced in,” said David Bloom, global head of
foreign-exchange strategy at HSBC Holdings Plc, in an interview with
Bloomberg Television from Doha. “The political outcome will determine
the future of the currency.”
An election result that paves the way to a U.K.-European Union deal on
Brexit could send the pound up to $1.45 by the end of next year. Or a
no-deal Brexit could see it tumble to $1.10, from just below $1.30
Any resolution is good, Bloom said, either it be another referendum or
a Brexit deal. Political wrangling will start to ebb away, the economy
could get a fiscal boost and the Bank of England could start
considering rate increases. The reverse could see recession fears
Among three election scenarios, a hung parliament -- where neither
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives nor opposition leader
Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party gets a majority -- would be the worst for
the currency, Bloom said.
In that case, there would be no majority of lawmakers in favor of a
fresh referendum on Brexit, nor favoring any specific Brexit deal. “We
could be back in the mud” and “lost in the wilderness.”
While polls suggest a Conservative majority now, the voting scenarios
for the Dec. 12 elections are complex, according to Bloom.
“It’s still completely open -- anything can happen,” the strategist said.
Jeffrey Epstein "had a collection of eyeballs on his wall"
The eyeballs make sense, because Epstein was a watcher. ..Is it a
coincidence that we all live in a watch-and-collect digital economy?
maybe. But we feast upon each other in the 21st century.
He was, in the words of the New York Times, “not closely monito- red.”
Jeffrey Epstein was a spy, in a society of spies. He was a collector,
in a collector’s economy. He was a watcher, and he died while nobody
On Wednesday, Awol's Sidama people will vote in a referendum on whether to form their own self-governing region in southern Ethiopia @ReutersAfrica
“The question of Sidama’s statehood has been ongoing for more than 130
years. It is an issue for which our forefathers made heavy
sacrifices,” he said.
If the referendum passes, the Sidama, Ethiopia’s fifth largest ethnic
group, who make up around 4 percent of the country’s 105 million
population, will gain control over local taxes, education, security
The vote is being watched closely by other ethnic groups from among
more than 80 that make up Ethiopia. More than a dozen other groups are
considering demanding similar votes.
The right is enshrined in the constitution, but has become a reality
only now under Abiy, who in just over a year in power has made peace
with long-term foe Eritrea - for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize
last month - and enacted large-scale change in what was once one of
Africa’s most tightly controlled countries.
In Push for Africa, Russia's Wagner Mercenaries Are 'Out of Their Depth' in Mozambique @MoscowTimes
When John Gartner, a former Rhodesian soldier who now heads the
military security company OAM, was approached by a Mozambican official
to help fight the Islamist insurgency in the country’s north, he
thought he was about to win a lucrative contract.
“We presented them with a first-class proposal in early August. We
have so much experience in operating in Mozambique and know the tough
environment very well. Trust me, we would have done an excellent job,”
he told The Moscow Times.
Dolf Dorfling, an ex-colonel in the South African army and founder of
the Black Hawk private military contractor, likewise submitted a
“strong” proposal for a country he knows “like the palm of his hand.”
They both lost out to a new player in town — the Kremlin-linked Wagner
Group, believed to be owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman with
close links to Russian President Vladimir Putin often referred to as
“Putin’s Chef” because of his catering business.
While the veteran mercenaries admitted they couldn’t match Wagner’s
low costs and high-level political connections, they cast doubt on the
Russian company’s ability to operate in Mozambique because they say it
knows neither the terrain nor the politics.
“Look, its money and politics, it was clear we couldn’t compete with
Wagner,” said Gartner, “But now they are in trouble there, they are
out of their depth.”
In September, about 200 Russian Wagner mercenaries arrived in
Mozambique’s capital Maputo, news first reported by The Times of
London and independently confirmed by The Moscow Times.
Since arriving, they have been engaged in a fierce fight with an
Islamic State-linked insurgency in the country’s gas-rich,
Muslim-majority Cabo Delgado region, which has claimed over 200 deaths
Black Hawk and OAM are two of the many private military contractors
operating in Sub-Saharan Africa. Their rise has been linked to the end
of apartheid in South Africa, which released many skilled soldiers
eager to be paid to help African governments struggling to curtail
Many are now aged between 55 and 65, but say they have the knowledge
and experience to keep working in Africa.
Gartner said he had proposed to bring around 50 highly qualified
experts to Mozambique at a cost of between $15,000 and $25,000 per
person per month.
While no public information is available on how much Wagner pays its
mercenaries, Yevgeny Shabayev, a former Russian military officer and
self-appointed spokesman for the group, told The Moscow Times that on
average, Wagner soldiers receive between 120,000 and 200,000 rubles
per month ($1,800 - $3,100).
Perhaps more important, the military contractors said, is the
political backing Wagner has attracted compared to traditional
Prigozhin is emerging as a key figure in Russia’s increasingly
expansive foreign policy in Africa, and Wagner troops have been
reported operating in Sudan, the Central African Republic and Libya.
Last week, The New York Times reported that following a meeting in
Moscow between Putin, Prigozhin and Madagascar’s then-president Hery
Rajaonarimampianina, Russian operatives were sent to the country with
the aim of influencing the local elections. Their security was
reportedly provided by mercenaries from Wagner.
Mark Galeotti, an expert on Russian security affairs, says that
Wagner’s unique blend of proximity to the Kremlin and low costs make
“They are cheap and come as part of a package of regime-support
services, including political technologies.”
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi flew to Russia and met Putin at the
end of August — two months before the country’s October presidential
elections — where he signed a number of energy and security
While there is no evidence to suggest Russia sent operatives to
influence the Mozambican elections, companies linked to Prigozhin have
been accused of propping up Nyusi and his party.
In the run-up to the elections, a think tank called Afric conducted a
poll that predicted victory for Nyusi. As the publication of election
polls is illegal during the campaign period in Mozambique, its founder
Jose Matemulane published it on the International Anticrisis Center
website, a Russian NGO linked to Prigozhin.
The poll ended up being widely shared across social media in Mozambique.
Afric’s page was eventually suspended by Facebook at the end of
October after Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity
policy, said the entity was associated with Prigozhin and had
attempted to interfere in the domestic politics of African countries.
The U.S.-based Stanford Internet Observatory research center also
identified four separate Prigozhin-linked Facebook pages created on
Sept. 23, 2019, which frequently posted identical content.
They lauded the government’s success in fighting the Islamist
insurgency in Cabo Delgado and criticized the main opposition party
A few weeks after Wagner’s arrival in September, reports started
coming out of Mozambique that the group’s mercenaries were being
ambushed, killed and beheaded in Cabo Delgado.
Two Mozambique army sources told The Moscow Times in October that at
least seven Russians had been killed by the insurgency that month.
Over a dozen independent analysts, mercenaries and security experts
working in the region have since told The Moscow Times that Wagner is
“You have to realize this is one of the toughest environments in the
world,” said Al Venter, a veteran South Africa journalist who has
written extensively about mercenaries on the continent.
“The consensus is that Wagner has almost no experience of the kind of
primitive bush warfare being waged in there. They are going to come
very badly unstuck,” he added.
Cabo Delgado is one of the poorest and least developed areas in the
region. It has limited basic infrastructure, including a lack of roads
and hospitals, that makes it an environment that is “ideal” for
ambushes, according to a Mozambican intelligence specialist based in
the area who wished to remain anonymous.
“The undergrowth is so thick there that all the high-tech equipment
Wagner brought ceases to be effective. The Russians arrived with
drones, but they can’t actually use them,” the specialist said.
The environment is not the only problem Wagner faces.
Two sources in the Mozambique military, also speaking under condition
of anonymity, described growing tensions between Wagner and the
Mozambique Defense Armed Forces (FADM) after a number of failed
“We have almost stopped patrolling together,” one of the two soldiers said.
Jasmine Opperman, a terrorism expert based in South Africa, believes
“a perfect storm” has formed around Wagner in Mozambique.
“The Russians don’t understand the local culture, don’t trust the
soldiers and have to fight in horrible conditions against an enemy
that is gaining more and more momentum. They are in over their heads.”
Wagner’s problems in Mozambique raise bigger questions about the
company’s rapid growth, according to Galeotti.
“They have clearly had to expand since their early Syrian days and
also have to make a profit. This means being less picky with recruits.
They are increasingly operating in theaters where they don’t have much
Shabayev, who says he is in regular contact with Wagner soldiers,
echoed these sentiments. He expects the death toll for Wagner soldiers
to rise across the world in coming years, but said it will be hard to
glean concrete information given Wagner’s secrecy.
He said the first bodies of Wagner soldiers who died in Mozambique
have already arrived in Vladimir, a region outside Moscow, where
families have been given hefty compensation in return for silence.
The Moscow Times was unable to independently confirm this.
For now, Gartner and Dorfling are on standby, monitoring developments
in Mozambique closely.
“Once Mozambique realizes that Wagner won’t be able to do the job
alone, we will be back in demand,” said Dorfling.
Sources told them that Wagner has started to look around for local
military expertise, although they haven’t heard anything yet.
“If you could let Wagner know we are available to help, that would be
great. We would like to come in and do what we do best,” said Gartner,
before hanging up.
28-OCT-2019 :: From Russia with Love
I would argue Putin’s timing is exquisite and optimal and his Model
has an exponential ROI.
Russia’s clout on African soil runs on many tracks, and its expansion
is geared primarily towards hybrid activities. In Moscow’s offer for
Africa are mercenaries, military equipment, mining investments,
nuclear power plants, and railway connections.
Andrew Korybko writes Moscow invaluably fills the much-needed niche of
providing its partners there with “Democratic Security”, or in other
words, the cost-effective and low-commitment capabilities needed to
thwart colour revolutions and resolve unconventional Wars
(collectively referred to as Hybrid War).
To simplify, Russia’s “political technologists” have reportedly
devised bespoke solutions for confronting incipient and ongoing color
revolutions, just like its private military contractors (PMCs) have
supposedly done the same when it comes to ending insurgencies.
Once we look through the Optics of two nuclear-capable supersonic
bombers belonging to the Russian Air Force landing in Pretoria for the
aircraft’s first-ever landing on the African continent and, according
to an embassy official, only the second country in which it has made a
public appearance outside of Russia.
The first was Venezuela. Then we need to see this move for what it is.
It is meaningful.
Where Xi is fed up and speaks about the ‘’The End of Vanity’’ because
the ROI [outside commodities and telecoms for China] is negative,
Putin has created a hybrid model with an exponential ROI. I would
imagine he is on speed dial.
@IMFNews's New Boss @KGeorgieva Voices Concern About Rising African Debt Levels @economics
The International Monetary Fund is worried about rising debt in
Africa, with about 40% of countries on the continent at distressed
levels, Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said.
“In some cases we are concerned, in others we see that investing is
going to pay off over time,” Georgieva said in an interview with
Bloomberg TV from Berlin.
Debt levels in the region have been rising as governments struggle to
collect and grow revenue while increasing their budgets. South
Africa’s ratio is projected to reach 81% of gross domestic product by
2028 and Kenya recently doubled its debt ceiling to match the size of
the entire economy.
“We do advise Kenya to be somewhat more cautious in building debt, but
we have seen good macroeconomic policies in Kenya,” she said. “Our
program with the country, our engagement with the country, by and
large, are just as positive.”
In Zambia, government debt, including publicly-guaranteed obligations,
is set to increase to 92% of GDP this year, and 96% in 2020, according
to the IMF.
“Debt on its own is not bad, it is bad when it goes for the wrong
things, and when it goes with a speed that the economy cannot handle,”
“In cases where debt is dangerous -- take Zambia -- we do say, you
need to really get a handle on your debt. In other cases, like
Ethiopia, we say you do need to renegotiate some of your debt.”
@StanChartKE reports Q3 2019 Earnings here
Par Value: 5/-
Closing Price: 198.75
Total Shares Issued: 343510571.00
Market Capitalization: 68,272,725,986
Standard Chartered Bank Q3 2019 results through 30th September 2019
vs. 30th September 2018
Q3 Kenya Government securities 95.700251b vs. 107.130848b -10.670%
Q3 Loans and advances to customers (net) 118.500094b vs. 111.004251b +6.753%
Q3 Total assets 290.564005b vs. 288.574370b +0.689%
Q3 Customer deposits 224.759544b vs. 219.463094b +2.413%
Q3 Total shareholders’ equity 47.904316b vs. 46.760870b +2.445%
Q3 Total interest income 19.062307b vs. 20.341637b -6.289%
Q3 Total interest expenses [4.401786b] vs. [5.766300b] -23.664%
Q3 Net interest income/ [Loss] 14.660521b vs. 14.575337b +0.584%
Q3 FX Trading income 2.362391b vs. 2.097609b +12.623%
Q3 Total non-interest income 6.960046b vs. 7.038906b -1.120%
Q3 Total operating income 21.620567b vs. 21.614243b +0.029%
Q3 Loan loss provision [728.232m] vs. [1.878756b] -61.239%
Q3 Staff costs [5.573493b] vs. [5.077397b] +9.771%
Q3 Total other operating expenses [12.484259b] vs. [12.371091b] +0.915%
Q3 Profit before tax and exceptional items 9.136308b vs. 9.243152b -1.156%
Q3 Profit/ [Loss] after tax and exceptional items 6.226150b vs.
Q3 Basic and diluted EPS 17.76 vs. 17.99 -1.278%
Q3 Net NPL 4.588779b vs. 5.031534b -8.800%