|Friday 22nd of November 2019
"Such a strong signal has never been measured in ground-based gamma ray astronomy - this is the first time." @vice
For the first time, astrophysicists have observed a cosmic explosion
emit particles that are a trillion times more energetic than visible
light, a record-setting measurement from a phenomenon that scientists
are still seeking to fully understand.
When a star dies, its insides no longer support its own mass, and it
crashes upon itself. This self-collision compresses the star’s core
into a neutron star or a black hole, while generating explosions that
produce a supernova.
These explosions are GRBs, and they produce short-lived jets of
extremely energetic light. GRBs may also occur when two neutron stars
They happen on a daily basis, and release as much energy in a few
seconds as our Sun will emit in its entire 10 billion years of life.
Until now, however, no telescope had observed a GRB emit photons
(light particles) on the order of a teraelectronvolt, or TeV.
“It's interesting to see how many things happen in the universe that
are so different from us,” Moretti said. “That we know all this is
mostly driven from curiosity, because we look at the stars we ask
ourselves, ‘But why?’”
Teraelectronvolt emission from the γ-ray burst GRB 190114C
Long-duration γ-ray bursts (GRBs) are the most luminous sources of
electromagnetic radiation known in the Universe. They arise from
outflows of plasma with velocities near the speed of light that are
ejected by newly formed neutron stars or black holes (of stellar mass)
at cosmological distances1,2. Prompt flashes of
megaelectronvolt-energy γ-rays are followed by a longer-lasting
afterglow emission in a wide range of energies (from radio waves to
gigaelectronvolt γ-rays), which originates from synchrotron radiation
generated by energetic electrons in the accompanying shock waves3,4.
Although emission of γ-rays at even higher (teraelectronvolt) energies
by other radiation mechanisms has been theoretically predicted5,6,7,8,
it has not been previously detected7,8. Here we report observations of
teraelectronvolt emission from the γ-ray burst GRB 190114C. γ-rays
were observed in the energy range 0.2–1 teraelectronvolt from about
one minute after the burst (at more than 50 standard deviations in the
first 20 minutes), revealing a distinct emission component of the
afterglow with power comparable to that of the synchrotron component.
07-OCT-2019 :: "This is the legendary DF41 ICBM"
Law & Politics
Hu Xijin [President Xi’s trusted mouth-piece] described as ‘’This is
the legendary DF41 ICBM. But it is not a tale. Today it is displayed
at Tiananmen Square I touched one about four years ago in the
production plant. No need to fear it. Just respect it and respect
China that owns it’’.
China's unruly periphery resents the Communist Party's heavy hand @TheEconomist
Law & Politics
A few days ago hundreds of young people, some teenagers, turned the
redbrick campus of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University into a
fortress. Clad in black, their faces masked in black too, most of them
remained defiant as they came under siege. Police shot rubber bullets
and jets of blue-dyed water at them. Defenders crouched over glass
bottles, filling them with fuel and stuffing them with fuses to make
bombs. Many cheered the news that an arrow shot by one of their
archers had hit a policeman in the leg. After more than five months of
anti-government unrest in Hong Kong, the stakes are turning deadly.
This time, many exhausted protesters surrendered to the police—the
youngest of them were given safe passage. Mercifully, massive
bloodshed has so far been avoided. But Hong Kong is in peril (see
article). As The Economist went to press, some protesters were
refusing to leave the campus, and protests continued in other parts of
the city. They attract nothing like the numbers who attended rallies
at the outset—perhaps 2m on one occasion in June. But they often
involve vandalism and Molotov cocktails. Despite the violence, public
support for the protesters—even the bomb-throwing radicals—remains
strong. Citizens may turn out in force for local elections on November
24th, which have taken on new significance as a test of the popular
will and a chance to give pro-establishment candidates a drubbing. The
government’s one concession—withdrawing a bill that would have allowed
suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial—did little to restore
calm. Protesters say they want nothing less than democracy. They
cannot pick their chief executive, and elections for Hong Kong’s
legislature are wildly tilted. So the protests may continue.
The Communist Party in Beijing does not seem eager to get its troops
to crush the unrest. Far from it, insiders say. This is a problem that
the party does not want to own; the economic and political costs of
mass-firing into crowds in a global financial centre would be huge.
But own the problem it does. The heavy-handedness of China’s leader,
Xi Jinping, and public resentment of it, is a primary cause of the
turmoil. He says he wants a “great rejuvenation” of his country. But
his brutal, uncompromising approach to control is feeding anger not
just in Hong Kong but all around China’s periphery.
When Mao Zedong’s guerrillas seized power in China in 1949, they did
not take over a clearly defined country, much less an entirely willing
one. Hong Kong was ruled by the British, nearby Macau by the
Portuguese. Taiwan was under the control of the Nationalist government
Mao had just overthrown. The mountain terrain of Tibet was under a
Buddhist theocracy that chafed at control from Beijing. Communist
troops had yet to enter another immense region in the far west,
Xinjiang, where Muslim ethnic groups did not want to be ruled from
Seventy years on, the party’s struggle to establish the China it wants
is far from over. Taiwan is still independent in all but name. In
January its ruling party, which favours a more formal separation, is
expected to do well once again in presidential and parliamentary
polls. “Today’s Hong Kong, tomorrow’s Taiwan” is a popular slogan in
Hong Kong that resonates with its intended audience, Taiwanese voters.
Since Mr Xi took power in 2012 they have watched him chip away at Hong
Kong’s freedoms and send warplanes on intimidating forays around
Taiwan. Few of them want their rich, democratic island to be swallowed
up by the dictatorship next door, even if many of them have thousands
of years of shared culture with mainlanders.
Tibet and Xinjiang are quiet, but only because people there have been
terrorised into silence. After widespread outbreaks of unrest a decade
ago, repression has grown overwhelming. In the past couple of years
Xinjiang’s regional government has built a network of prison camps and
incarcerated about 1m people, mostly ethnic Uighurs, often simply for
being devout Muslims. Official Chinese documents recently leaked to
the New York Times have confirmed the horrors unleashed there (see
article). Officials say this “vocational training”, as they chillingly
describe it, is necessary to eradicate Islamist extremism. In the long
run it is more likely to fuel rage that will one day explode.
The slogan in Hong Kong has another part: “Today’s Xinjiang,
tomorrow’s Hong Kong”. Few expect such a grim outcome for the former
British colony. But Hong Kongers are right to view the party with
fear. Even if Mr Xi decides not to use troops in Hong Kong, his view
of challenges to the party’s authority is clear. He thinks they should
This week America’s Congress passed a bill, nearly unanimously,
requiring the government to apply sanctions to officials guilty of
abusing human rights in Hong Kong. Nonetheless, China is likely to
lean harder on Hong Kong’s government, to explore whether it can pass
a harsh new anti-sedition law, and to require students to submit to
“patriotic education” (ie, party propaganda). The party wants to know
the names of those who defy it, the better to make their lives
Mr Xi says he wants China to achieve its great rejuvenation by 2049,
the 100th anniversary of Mao’s victory. By then, he says, the country
will be “strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and
More likely, if the party remains in power that long, Mao’s unfinished
business will remain a terrible sore. Millions of people living in the
outlying regions that Mao claimed for the party will be seething.
Not all the Communist elite agree with Mr Xi’s clenched-fist approach,
which is presumably why someone leaked the Xinjiang papers. Trouble in
the periphery of an empire can swiftly spread to the centre. This is
doubly likely when the peripheries are also where the empire rubs up
against suspicious neighbours. India is wary of China’s militarisation
of Tibet. China’s neighbours anxiously watch the country’s military
build-up in the Taiwan Strait. A big fear is that an attack on the
island could trigger war between China and America. The party cannot
win lasting assent to its rule by force alone.
In Hong Kong “one country, two systems” is officially due to expire in
2047. On current form its system is likely to be much like the rest of
China’s long before then. That is why Hong Kong’s protesters are so
desperate, and why the harmony Mr Xi talks so blithely of creating in
China will elude him.
05-MAR-2018 :: China has unveiled a Digital Panopticon in Xinjiang
Law & Politics
Dissent is measured and snuffed out very quickly in China. China has
unveiled a Digital Panopticon in Xinjiang where a combination of data
from video surveillance, face and license plate recognition, mobile
device locations, and official records to identify targets for
detention. Xinjiang is surely a precursor for how the CCCP will manage
dissent. The actions in Xinjiang are part of the regional authorities’
ongoing “strike-hard” campaign, and
of Xi’s “stability maintenance” and “enduring peace” drive in the
region. Authorities say the campaign targets “terrorist elements,” but
it is in practice far broader, and encompasses anyone suspected of
"This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves."
Law & Politics
They contend that Ukraine was complicit in the 2016 hacking of the
Democratic National Committee (DNC) and that computer records were
fabricated to cast blame on Russia. A key talking point is
CrowdStrike, a security firm hired by the DNC that detected the hack.
But Hill, the co-author of the book Mr Putin: Operative in the
Kremlin, warned in forensic and measured terms that such
rumour-mongering only empowers the Russian president who, as
intelligence agencies and Congress concluded, systematically attacked
America’s democratic institutions in 2016 and is already plotting do
so again next year.
“The impact of the successful 2016 Russian campaign remains evident
today,” she said, wearing black and speaking in an accent from
north-east England. “Our nation is being torn apart. Truth is
questioned. Our highly professional and expert career foreign service
is being undermined. US support for Ukraine – which continues to face
armed Russian aggression – has been politicised.”
She added: “Right now, Russia’s security services and their proxies
have geared up to repeat their interference in the 2020 election. We
are running out of time to stop them. In the course of this
investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically
driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.”
Doubts over the legitimacy of a US election result, she said, are
“exactly what the Russian government was hoping for. They would pit
one side of our electorate against the others.”
05-DEC-2016:: "We have a deviate, Tomahawk." "We copy. There's a voice." "We have gross oscillation here."
Law & Politics
However, my starting point is the election of President Donald Trump
because hindsight will surely show that Russia ran a seriously
sophisticated programme of interference, mostly digital. Don DeLillo,
who is a prophetic 21st writer, writes as follows in one of his short
The specialist is monitoring data on his mission console when a voice
breaks in, “a voice that carried with it a strange and unspecifiable
He checks in with his flight-dynamics and conceptual- paradigm
officers at Colorado Command:
“We have a deviate, Tomahawk.”
“We copy. There’s a voice.”
“We have gross oscillation here.”
“There’s some interference. I have gone redundant but I’m not sure
“We are clearing an outframe to locate source.”
“Thank you, Colorado.”
“It is probably just selective noise. You are negative red on
the step-function quad.”
“It was a voice,” I told them.
“We have just received an affirm on selective noise... We will
correct, Tomahawk. In the meantime, advise you to stay redundant.”
The voice, in contrast to Colorado’s metallic pidgin, is a melange of
repartee, laughter, and song, with a “quality of purest, sweetest
“Somehow we are picking up signals from radio programmes of 40, 50, 60
I have no doubt that Putin ran a seriously 21st predominantly digital
programme of interference which amplified the Trump candidacy. POTUS
Trump was an ideal candidate for this kind of support.
Trump is a linguistic warfare specialist. Look at the names he gave
his opponents: Crooked Hillary, Lyin’ Ted, Little Marco, ‘Low-energy’
Jeb — were devastating and terminal.
The first thing is plausible deniability (and some folks here at home
need to remember those words).
The second thing is non-linearity, you have to learn how to navigate a
linear system (the new 21st digital ecosystem) in a non-linear way.
Beppe Grillo, the comic turned leader of the Five Star movement in
Italy said: This is the deflagration of an epoch. It’s the apocalypse
of this information system, of the TVs, of the big newspapers, of the
intellectuals, of the journalists.”
He is right, traditional media has been disrupted and the insurgents
can broadcast live and over the top.
From feeding the hot-house conspiracy frenzy on line (‘’a constant
state of destabilised perception’’), timely and judicious doses of
Wikileaks leaks which drained Hillary’s bona fides and her turn-out
and motivated Trump’s, what we have witnessed is something remarkable
Putin has proven himself an information master, and his adversaries
are his information victims.
Iran's Protests Are Grassroots, Not Foreign-Driven, And That's The Real Problem @OneWorldGTT @AKorybko
Law & Politics
Although the US is most directly responsible for Iran's economic woes
over the past few years, the "politically inconvenient" fact of the
matter is that its sanctions policy has indeed succeeded in creating
the conditions whereby people naturally take to the streets in protest
from time to time (and especially after so-called "trigger events"
such as the latest fuel price hike), after which they function
(whether knowingly or unwittingly) as de-facto "human shields" for
provocateurs to hide behind when carrying out their attacks against
the state. So long as they have a critical mass of people to "protect"
them, the security forces will be reluctant to kinetically respond to
the provocateurs out of fear of causing "collateral damage".
The Lebanese Color Revolution Is A Defining Moment For The Resistance @OneWorldGTT @AKorybko
Law & Politics
What originally began as an expression of legitimate outrage at the
Mideast country's dysfunctional government and endemic corruption
quickly transformed into a Color Revolution aimed at carrying out
regime change in Lebanon through the removal of Hezbollah from its
government, the threat of which makes this a defining moment for the
Resistance because its supporters' loyalty is being tested to the
Lebanon is undoubtedly in the throes of an ongoing Color Revolution
that's already succeeded in securing the resignation of Prime Minister
Hariri in response to large-scale protests against the Mideast
country's dysfunctional government and endemic corruption, sparked as
they were by a proposed tax on WhatsApp calls that served as the
proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.
The unrest has been condemned by two key members of the Resistance,
Ayatollah Khamenei and Hezbollah leader Nasrallah, who warned against
the participants becoming useful idiots in the US, "Israel", and the
GCC's plot against their homeland. The first-mentioned tweeted that "I
recommend those who care in #Iraq and #Lebanon remedy the insecurity
and turmoil created in their countries by the U.S., the Zionist
regime, some western countries, and the money of some reactionary
countries. The people have justifiable demands, but they should know
their demands can only be fulfilled within the legal structure and
framework of their country. When the legal structure is disrupted in a
country, no action can be carried out", while the second urged his
supporters to stay away from the scene of the disturbances and
emphasized how much the government's fall could destabilize their
fragile country. . It shouldn't be forgotten that US Secretary of
State Pompeo ominously hinted at an ultimatum being made to Lebanon
during his visit there in March when he thundered that "Lebanon faces
a choice; bravely move forward as an independent and proud nation or
allow the dark ambitions of Iran and Hezbollah to dictate your
future", which strongly suggests that the US at the very least tacitly
has a hand in guiding developments to that There's no question at this
point that legitimate anti-corruption protests have been hijacked for
regime change ends aimed at removing Resistance forces from power in
those countries, especially since both the Ayatollah and Nasrallah
touched upon this in their recent statements on this topic, though
there are still those who outwardly profess to support the
Resistance's broader mission but refuse to stop participating in the
unrest there. aforementioned end
The wave of protests shaking the world resembles a global uprising against neoliberalism. @MiddleEastEye
Law & Politics
The protests in Iraq and Lebanon, while domestic in origin, could yet
have dire geopolitical consequences in the framework of an enduring
confrontation between the so-called "Arab NATO" and "the Axis of
Resistance" led by Iran and comprising Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, which
is shaping regional dynamics.
There is little doubt that the protests in these two countries have
spontaneous origins, triggered by the local elites’ catastrophic
They have not been able to fulfil the most basic needs of the vast
majority of the population, who have grown exhausted by the absence of
basic services - such as water, electricity and job opportunities -
and by open, and outrageous, forms of corruption.
Behind such legitimate and genuine protests, however, there could also
be a hidden agenda, aimed at manipulating public rage to score
It is no secret that the current political structure in Iraq centres
on a political majority based largely on Shia-inspired parties
sensitive to neighbouring Iran, while in Lebanon, pro-Iranian
Hezbollah is a major power broker.
This represents a thorn in the side of the US, Israel and the Arab
countries affiliated with them (Arab NATO). The Axis of Resistance has
systematically opposed the Pax Americana in the the Middle East.
There is no conclusive evidence to sustain such claims, but there has
been a great deal of media spinning in an attempt to portray these
protests as an anti-Iranian, anti-Hezbollah revolt especially in
Saudi-funded media outlets.
Yet, if some die-hard armchair warrior in Arab NATO is thinking they
will profit from such mistakes and failures by attempting to shift the
region’s political dynamics, they may be on the verge of yet another
fatal miscalculation, confirming an inability to learn from previous
If a new civil war is ignited in Iraq or Lebanon, in the end, after a
bloodbath, only the more resilient and determined groups will prevail
- and these might well be the members of the Axis of Resistance.
No US, European or Arab troops would be deployed on the ground to take
sides. Air strikes and drones would not work. Pursuing hybrid warfare
through additional financial sanctions would only lead to collapse in
Lebanon; in Iraq, it would further increase the Iranian, Russian and
Chinese presence in the country.
If an implosion with catastrophic consequences should occur, the
Lebanese population affiliated with, or sympathetic to, Hezbollah -
unlike their more affluent compatriots of other political or
confessional groups - would have nowhere to go; they would fight and
resist until the bitter end. The same goes for many Iraqi Shia.
13-AUG-2019 :: The Feedback Loop Phenomenon
China has exerted the power of pull over a vast swathe of the world
over the last two decades. We can call it the China, Asia, EM and
Frontier markets feedback loop.
This feedback loop has been largely a positive one for the last two
decades. With the Yuan now in retreat [and in a precise response to
Trump], this will surely exert serious downside pressure on those
countries in the Feed- back Loop.
The Purest Proxy for the China, Asia, EM and Frontier markets feedback
loop phenomenon is the South African Rand aka the ZAR.
Angola raises $3bn from yield-starved bond investors @FinancialTimes
Angola has raised $3bn from its first bond sale since securing an IMF
support package last year, in the latest demonstration that investors’
hunger for higher-yielding debt has spread into frontier markets.
The oil-rich African country, which has a debt pile that is close to
100 per cent of its GDP, attracted more than $8bn of orders for the
10- and 30-year debt.
Buyers were drawn in by the chunky yields on offer — 8 per cent and
9.125 per cent respectively — and tentative signs that president João
Lourenço’s economic turnround programme was bearing fruit.
Since taking over in 2017, Mr Lourenço has vowed to wean the country
off its dependence on oil revenues while tackling the rampant
corruption that set in under his predecessor José Eduardo dos Santos,
who led Angola for 38 years.
“There has been a genuine change in Angola — a clear-out of the old
guard and a more professional approach to running the public
finances,” said Kieran Curtis, a fund manager at Aberdeen Standard
Investments who bought bonds in the sale.
“It’s not an uncontroversial story because the debt stock is so high,
but the yield is very attractive,” added Mr Curtis.
Maryam Khosrowshahi, a senior debt banker at Deutsche Bank, one of the
banks that arranged the sale, said: “Angola came to market at a good
time, when benchmark yields are still so low.”
Rock-bottom interest rates in developed economies have made it
relatively easy for so-called frontier markets such as Angola to raise
cash, prompting the IMF to warn of a “borrowing binge”.
Debt issuance by frontier economies — a grouping of lower-rated
emerging nations that typically lure investors by paying higher yields
— is on course to equal 2017’s record of $38bn.
“There can be too much of a good thing,” the IMF said earlier this
week. “Countries that don’t put the money to good use may have trouble
servicing their loans and find themselves at risk of default.”
Angola’s bond sale, its first this year, comes amid pressure to open
up its economy after signing a $3.7bn credit facility with the IMF in
December, the biggest ever such arrangement made by an African
The country’s currency, the kwanza, has plunged since it was allowed
to float freely last month, and is down roughly a third against the
dollar this year.
Sub-Saharan Africa’s third-largest economy is struggling with
dwindling output from its oilfields, which account for roughly 95 per
cent of foreign revenue.
“Their focus has been to diversify, but this is still an oil economy,”
said Ms Khosrowshahi.
Substantial dollar-denominated oil income is a comfort to bond
investors who worry less about a mismatch between the government’s
revenues and liabilities, she added.
The proceeds of Tuesday’s sale will help the country make repayments
on local-currency debt and bilateral loans from China that paid for a
reconstruction boom after the end of Angola’s civil war in 2002.
Over the longer term, investors are betting that an economic rebound
after a four-year recession will help reduce overall debt levels.
Mr Curtis said: “The oil sector generates enough money to pay debt
which falls due for the next couple of years, then in a few years
there’s potentially a better growth story.”
Letter from Africa: Zimbabwe, the land where cash barons thrive BBC
In our series of letters from African writers,
journalist-turned-barrister Brian Hungwe says the need for cash has
not been eased by the release of new Zimbabwean dollar notes over the
In Zimbabwe, cash is king.
You need notes in your hand to avoid paying a premium for goods.
This has come about because of a chronic shortage of physical cash -
which has led to a three-tier pricing model.
For example, if you go into a supermarket to buy a 15 Zimbabwean
dollar loaf of bread, you can pay:
Z$15 in cash
Z$18 in mobile money
Z$20 by debit card.
You also need cash to pay for bus fares - electronic transactions are
not accepted on public transport - and road-side vendors or some small
grocery shops only take cash.
Egyptian Tourism Revenue Surges to a Record @business
Tourism, which makes up about 15% of Egypt’s economy, was badly shaken
by the 2011 uprising and further battered by a series of attacks
targeting tourists, including the downing of a Russian jetliner in the
Sinai about four years later.
As security has improved, tourists have returned; the U.K. in October
lifted its advisory against commercial airlines flying to the Sinai’s
Earnings were over $12.5 billion in the 2018-19 fiscal year, “the
highest tourism revenue in Egypt’s history” and a validation of
authorities’ new, stricter standards for accommodation and global
promotion efforts, Tourism Minister Rania Al-Mashat said Thursday in
an interview with Bloomberg TV in Beijing.
The North African country is also developing options beyond “cultural
heritage or sun and sea,” according to Al-Mashat. “Today’s travelers
are looking for experience, they’re looking for diversity of offer and
they’re looking for being part of the local community,” she said,
citing the potential of the Red Sea Mountain Trail, a 170-kilometer
(106 miles) trekking route near the resort of Hurghada.
“By December 2019, we will have reached the peak of 2010 in terms of
tourist numbers,” Al-Mashtat said. The opening of the much-touted
“billion-dollar” Grand Egyptian Museum near the pyramids of Giza
that’s slated for next year will also be a major draw, she said.
Egypt is properly an investors Darling.
A former president's crocodiles are terrorising Ivory Coast's capital @TheEconomist
Once they guarded his palace. Now they prey on pedestrians
The first president of Ivory Coast, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, liked to
build monuments to himself. After independence he erected a new
political capital on top of his remote home village, Yamoussoukro.
No expense was spared. He equipped the city with a Concorde runway,
West Africa’s first ice-skating rink, the largest basilica in the
world and a grand palace, surrounded by an artificial lake filled with
Since the president’s death in 1993 officials have preferred to work
in the commercial capital, Abidjan, leaving the political capital to
fall into disrepair.
But potholed roads and broken streetlights are not the only problems
locals face. The president’s pets have escaped into the city’s
waterways, and reproduced. “There has been no policy for the
crocodiles. If you go near the water, they will eat you,” frets Souaga
Gérard, a teacher.
The crocodiles were gifts from Moussa Traoré, the brutal dictator of
next-door Mali. “It was a sort of ‘This is how I deal with my enemies’
gesture,” says a Western diplomat.
For more than three decades they were looked after by a wiry keeper,
Dicko Toki. He gave them names like “Capitaine” and “Chef de Cabinet”
and kept them in check with a blunt machete.
In 2012, however, Mr Toki was allegedly dragged out into the lake by
Chef de Cabinet, never to be seen again.
In the wild, crocodiles can get by with only the occasional meal. The
oxen that the presidency buys to feed them every month ought to be
enough to satisfy even the hungriest of them.
Alas, irresponsible tourists have developed the habit of paying locals
good money (around $5 a chomp) to see them gobble down live chickens.
This rich diet has allowed the animals to grow and multiply. There
were about 20 originally, but no one knows how many there are now—or
how many people they have killed.
“It is particularly dangerous in the rainy season when there are
floods,” says Mr Gérard.
In most cities in Africa hardly anyone would shed a tear at the
removal of cold-blooded killers, or their conversion into stylish
handbags. But Yamoussoukro’s crocs have a sacred aura, thanks to the
big man to whom they once belonged.
Some say anyone who does them harm will be cursed. So when they come
out of the water looking for a snack, the palace guards do not shoot
them. Instead, firemen are called to put them gingerly back.■
"The Crocodiles of Yamoussoukro," VS Naipaul
Here, Naipaul investigates the crocodiles that the President of the
Ivory Coast keeps at his tribal village, Yamoussoukro, which has been
made a monument of modernity as a testament to Ivory Coast's
Daily, they are thrown a live chicken to eat in front of an audience.
Naipaul talks to people about other strange happenings and then puts
the events side by side to see if they shed light on one another.
But his questions keep leading to the ''world of night, the world of
darkness ,'' as one African calls it, the world of animistic belief
and supposed supernatural powers.
Many of the people he talks to are foreigners who have chosen to live
here and who love it, like the woman from Martinique who says that
''life is so big'' with the addition of this ''other world.''
Yet poking through the satisfaction and ''wholeness'' these people say
they feel are the grisly little details he keeps wondering about. In
the Ivory Coast, the servants of a chief are still buried with him,
Naipaul is told. If they run away at his death, children are
sacrificed instead. Someone tells him that, when the newspaper reports
a child's disappearance, that child has been sacrificed. The newspaper
describes a house that mysteriously keeps catching on fire, and
attributes this phenomenon to evil spirits. He is told of the power of
some Africans to turn themselves into ''pure energy,'' to travel
instantaneously to Paris, say, and bring back news. In ''the world of
night,'' with their supernatural powers, Africans have everything
Europeans have brought about with technology, he is told.
Cash Crunch Pushes Kenya to Edge With Curb in Job Creation @economics @herbling and @eombok
Kenya’s bid to bolster its Treasury and ease a cash crunch may instead
hit East Africa’s largest economy with a slowdown in job creation.
The central government and county authorities were yet to pay
suppliers and contractors at least 172 billion shillings ($1.7
billion) as of June, with amounts due from national ministries,
departments and agencies almost double from a year earlier.
Additionally, business cash-flows are suffering from the state
providing only about half of the money required for tax refunds every
“This has led to negative impact on the economy, including less than
optimal levels of employment and escalation of poverty,” acting
Treasury Secretary Ukur Yatani said from the capital, Nairobi.
“Cases of individuals and firms experiencing unmet financial
obligations including failure to repay loans are widespread.”
The World Bank in October said Kenya’s unemployment rate was around
11.4%, compared with the government’s 2015-16 estimate of 7.4%.
Kenya’s economic expansion will probably slow to 5.8% this year from
6.3% in 2018, according to the World Bank, missing growth-targets for
the fourth time in five years.
That’s partly because under-performing revenue is making it difficult
to fund President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda aimed at boosting
manufacturing, health care, housing and farming and help create one
million jobs annually.
The difficulty in paying suppliers and settling tax refunds reflects a
cash shortage that fiscal authorities are struggling to manage with
measures that include asking state companies to remit earnings and
increasing state borrowing limits.
“Private-sector activity, which is the main employer, has slowed
remarkably,” said Faith Atiti, a senior economist at Nairobi-based
NCBA Bank Kenya Ltd. “Fixed-capital formation in the area has
literally stunted if not contracted.”
The National Treasury directed all state companies to remit earnings,
which they previously retained and spent partly on developing assets
and buying government securities.
Yatani wants that money back to bolster funding for priority projects.
He expects to receive 78.7 billion shillings from the corporations
this fiscal year.
Lawmakers approved legislation Wednesday that requires the national
and county governments to hold accounts with the central bank, from
where payments will be made.
They are preparing additional legislation demanding the same of
ministries, departments and state companies.
Last week, the Treasury proposed an almost 3% increase in the 2019-20
spending plans to 3.13 trillion shillings to continue investing in
Kenyatta’s priority projects.
Authorities consequently raised the period’s budget-gap forecast to
6.3% of gross domestic product to take into account additional
borrowing and lower revenue.
Yatani told lawmakers on Nov. 19 that the Treasury cut this fiscal
year’s tax-collection target by 108.7 billion shillings.
Kenya will spend 696.6 billion shillings, equivalent to 39% of the
revenue target, on servicing debt in the year through June.
In October, the Treasury set a new debt limit of 9 trillion shillings,
effectively increasing room for more borrowing to help plug the budget
This week, the Treasury announced additional measures to increase
borrowing on concessional terms after a foray into pricier Eurobonds
and syndicated loans took it closer to debt distress.
The International Monetary Fund estimates Kenya’s debt this year at
almost 60% of gross domestic product.