|Wednesday 04th of December 2019
11-NOV-2019 :: The Bots will be waiting for Santa Claus and a Christmas rally so President Trump is wont to tweetStock Market up big today. A new record. Enjoy!
Practically every trading day now and for over a year, President Trump
recycles the same headline. The latest iteration ‘’Donald Trump says
China trade talks moving ‘very nicely’
This is a House of Cards of simply monstrous proportions and has been
bulked up with the steroids of Free money, negative interest rates and
Here we go round the prickly pear.
Here we go round the prickly pear at five o’clock in the morning.
This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper.
The Hollow Men T.S. ELIOT
And it is also within Xi’s power to absolutely crash the US market by
simply pronouncing that ‘’no-trade deal is possible’’ and the US stock
indices will sink as far as the US’
The Bots will be waiting for Santa Claus and a Christmas rally so Pre-
sident Trump is wont to tweetStock Market up big today. A new record.
the owner of a mysterious number, "-1." @nytimes
Law & Politics
Investigators are trying to determine whether the unidentified phone
number belongs to Mr. Trump, said Representative Adam B. Schiff,
Democrat of California, who leads the House Intelligence Committee.
The report detailed a game of phone tag between the -1 phone number
and Mr. Giuliani on Aug. 8.
09-JUL-2018 :: Tariff wars, who blinks first?
Law & Politics
James Dean was an iconic American actor, who tapped into the universal
yearning and angst of nearly every adolescent human being with a raw
connection that has surely not been surpassed since. In one of his
most consequential films, Rebel without a Cause, two players (read,
teenage boys) decide to settle a dispute (read, teenage girl) by way
of near-death experiences.
Each speeds an automobile towards a cliff. A simple rule governs the
challenge: the first to jump out of his automobile is the chicken and,
by univer- sally accepted social convention, concedes the object in
dispute. The second to jump is victorious, and, depending on context,
becomes gang leader, prom king, etc.
Buzz, the leader of a local gang, agrees to a “Chickie Run.” Both race
stolen cars towards the edge of a cliff. The first to eject out of his
car is branded a “chickie.” Seconds into the race, Buzz discovers that
his jacket is stuck on the door handle, making jumping out of the car
somewhat difficult. Jimmie jumps out an instant before the cars reach
the edge of the cliff.
Buzz, still unable to free his jacket from the door handle, fails to
escape. While he won’t be branded a “chic- kie,” he suffers a worse
27-MAY-2019 :: China vs. US War Ballistic
Law & Politics
The point being in the trade war Trump is no longer the decider. In
the US, there is clearly a consensus baseline for a full-on toe to toe
slugfest as it were. In China, however, there is only one decider who
was pronounced as much by Xinhua in a historical announcement in March
Xi reckons he can direct a successful, society-wide struggle in the
trade dispute’’ Notwithstanding all the hyperbole and very partisan
commentary, the following are the plain Truths.
The Markets are still pricing in a benign [but much less benign than a
month ago] Outcome. We need to consider what a non-benign or even
maximum non-benign outcome looks like.
China in 2050: will it be a global player or split the world economy? @FinancialTimes
Law & Politics
Xi Jinping, China’s strongman leader, was in an expansive mood as he
presided over celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the
People’s Republic in October.
China, he said, with a “proud civilisation spanning over five
millennia . . . will write a more brilliant chapter in our new journey
toward the realisation of the two centenary goals and the Chinese
dream of great national renewal.”
The twin goals, to be achieved by 2049, are the “rejuvenation of the
Chinese nation” both economically and territorially by reunifying with
Mr Xi has reason to be grandiloquent. China’s $14tn economy is second
only to the US; Standard Chartered reckons that on the basis of
purchasing power parity, China will take the number one slot as early
as next year.
Even in nominal terms — depending on how you analyse the data — the
Chinese economy is expected to surpass the US at some point in the
China is also the world’s largest trading nation in goods, according
to management consultancy McKinsey, and Chinese and Taiwanese
companies account for more than a fifth of this year’s Global Fortune
It ranks in the world’s top two countries for receiving and giving
foreign direct investment and is the second biggest spender on
research and development at some $300bn last year.
China is also represented in international institutions. Its citizens
sit at the top of global bodies like the International
Telecommunications Union and — until Meng Hongwei was detained for
reportedly confessing in a Chinese court to taking bribes — Interpol.
Once dismissed as a copycat maker of cheap gadgets, China now rivals
the US in technology, sparking a new arms race in areas such as
artificial intelligence and fifth-generation telecoms networks.
“Technology is arguably at the centre of the changing relationship
between China and the world,” wrote McKinsey in a report about the
country’s global relations.
While China needs access to foreign markets to support tech
development, it also wants to increase the market share for local
Other countries are paying “close attention” to whether China breaks
from global trade to focus on its domestic market, the report says.
This scrutiny reflects the inconvenient truth Mr Xi did not bring up
in his anniversary speech: China’s rise and modus operandi have
created waves across the globe, threatening foreign relations and
imperilling trade, tech and capital flows.
The big question for the future is whether it will backtrack and
become an integrated part of the global economy or whether the current
decoupling will turn into a massive rift.
This would create a two-gear world economy — much as has happened with
the “splinternet”, bifurcated between China and the rest of the world.
The Sino-US trade war and consequent tariff rises threaten to unstitch
global supply chains as manufacturers move to cheaper shores in
south-east Asia and elsewhere.
The broader tech war and concerns over national security has put
chipmakers and others on notice that they can no longer deal with
blacklisted Chinese companies — US national carriers, for example,
have been banned from using Huawei as a supplier.
But the backlash from America’s own tech giants — many of which have
long griped at China’s intellectual-property theft and uneven playing
field in terms of market access and subsidies — shows how much they
want access to the nation’s market.
Huawei is on its third licence extension enabling US companies to work
with it despite the ban.
How the blacklisting of Huawei plays out will dictate the course of
future relations in tech.
An outright ban would, many analysts argue, be an own goal — forcing
China to ratchet up its efforts in self-sufficiency and cutting
American players out of a 1.4bn-strong market.
Accessing China’s market may look less attractive if it means being
shunned by an entire generation of consumers
But caving in does not guarantee an open door. China has flexed its
muscle in other industries such as airlines, hotels and movie
producers, all of which have been called upon to choose between
acquiescing or rebelling.
China’s insistence on its sovereignty over the independently ruled
island of Taiwan has snagged the likes of Marriott International.
The hotel group was accused of “seriously violat[ing] national laws
and hurt[ing] the feelings of the Chinese people” when it listed
Taiwan as a country in some online forms. It apologised and changed
Others have been less swift to apologise, including the cartoon show
South Park. The show’s producers tweeted a fake apology following its
“Band in China” episode that satirised censorship in the country.
They said: “Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our home
and our hearts. We too love money more than freedom and democracy . .
. We good now China?”
Yet it will take more than plucky cartoonists to stand up to China —
multinationals who want to serve the whole world will need to tread
One question is whether bending to China’s will can jeopardise
business elsewhere — say, from flocks of millennials spurning sneakers
or movies from companies that make what they see as unpalatable
Accessing China’s market may look less attractive if it means being
shunned by an entire generation of consumers across the rest of the
07-OCT-2019 :: China turns 70
Law & Politics
“Longing on a large scale makes history.” wrote Don DeLillo and these
words streamed into my consciousness as I watched the celebrations in
Tiananmen Square, which were marking the 70th anniversary of Chinese
Communist Party rule.
“Unity is iron and steel; unity is a source of strength,”
“Complete reunification of the motherland is an inevitable trend..no
one and no force can ever stop it!” he added.
Today we know the Chinese economy is slowing, but Xi is relying on
Chinese resilience “If there is a decoupling between the two
economies, so be it. The Chinese people can endure more pain than the
spoiled and hubristic Americans''
15-OCT-2018 :: War is coming @TheStarKenya
Law & Politics
‘’This geopolitical contest will likely escalate dangerously. Powerful
forces on both sides are driving the world’s two strongest countries
toward full-fle- dged confrontation’’ [The writer is the Douglas
Dillon professor of go- vernment at the Harvard Kennedy School and
author of ‘Destined for War’ in the FT]
As a candidate, Donald Trump complained that China was “raping”
America. After months of smaller steps, his administration has now
pledged to fight back hard on all fronts — and win.
@EmmanuelMacron accuses Turkey of working with Islamic State proxies @Reuters.
Law & Politics
French President Emmanuel Macron accused Turkey of working with
Islamic State proxies and said Ankara needed to clarify those
ambiguities during meetings this week.
“The common enemy today is the terrorist groups. I’m sorry to say, we
don’t have the same definition of terrorism around the table,” Macron
told reporters on Tuesday, at a news conference alongside U.S.
President Donald Trump.
“When I look at Turkey they are fighting against those who fought with
us shoulder to shoulder against ISIS (Islamic State) and sometimes
they work with ISIS proxies.”
Taken to Brink by @realDonaldTrump Gulf States Are Backpedaling on Iran @business via @YahooFinance
Law & Politics
(Bloomberg) -- An expanded soccer tournament, a direct flight,
clandestine meetings and a pledge to release prisoners of war;
diplomacy is breaking out as Gulf Arab nations back away from a Donald
Trump-inspired confrontation with Iran. And the signs are everywhere.
Last week, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain played
their first games of the 2019 Arabian Gulf Cup in Qatar after a
last-minute decision to take part -- an apparent breakthrough in a
30-month feud that saw them halt trade and flights over Qatar’s links
with Iran and support for Islamist groups.
Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition that’s fought Iranian-backed Houthi
rebels in Yemen since 2015 began releasing jailed Houthis, as efforts
to end the conflict gather momentum.
Oman is quietly hosting high-level meetings, according to people
familiar with the matter, and even Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
has hinted at direct channels with the U.A.E.
Spooked by the prospect of a catastrophic war with Iran and its proxy
militias across the region, Gulf monarchies are in the midst of a
The U.A.E., whose economic model relies in large part on its
international links, quickly realized it had most to lose from a
It had removed most of its troops from Yemen by the end of a turbulent
summer that saw oil tankers targeted and a U.S. drone downed in the
Gulf without significant American response.
While the humanitarian catastrophe unleashed by the Yemen war trained
an unwelcome spotlight on Saudi Arabia, it took a brazen strike on
Saudi oil installations -- which knocked out half the country’s crude
production -- to ram home the risks and prove that Trump was not about
to ride to his allies’ rescue.
“The attacks shattered any illusion of this magical U.S. security
umbrella,” said David Roberts, an assistant professor at King’s
College London who studies the Gulf.
“It burst the bubble and showed that Iran had the willingness to both
do something astonishing like the attack on Aramco facilities and the
capability to carry it out.”
Iran denies U.S. and Saudi assertions it carried out the Sept. 14
strikes, pointing to Houthi claims of responsibility. But people
familiar with investigations into the attacks say they were almost
certainly launched from southwestern Iran -- an explosive escalation
in Tehran’s pushback against an economic offensive unleashed by Trump
and enthusiastically backed by the Saudis.
The Trump administration withdrew last year from the 2015 deal meant
to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, and reimposed
sanctions that have crippled its oil exports.
But the “maximum pressure” policy is designed to coax Tehran into more
concessions not to drag the U.S. into a new Middle East war just as it
draws down troops in Syria.
Rolling back Shiite Muslim Iran’s power remains a priority for the
Sunni Gulf Arab leadership. There’s an increasing recognition,
however, that no one stands to gain from a military escalation in the
world’s top oil-exporting region.
Saudi Arabia’s Center for International Communication didn’t respond
to an email seeking comment. The U.A.E. declined to comment.
But in a Nov. 10 speech, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar
Gargash said he saw “a path to a deal with Iran that all parties might
soon” be ready to embark on if Tehran demonstrated commitment.
In search of a breakthrough, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, a
former cricketer elected with the backing of a powerful army that
provides extensive support for the Saudi military, shuttled between
Tehran and Riyadh in October.
He met Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Rouhani, as
well as Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin
Salman, describing talks as “encouraging.”
Khan said he traveled at the request of Trump and Saudi Minister of
State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir said the diplomacy wasn’t
prompted by the kingdom. But deepening unease in the Gulf catalyzed
Turning these overtures into lasting peace between countries that have
grown further apart since the 1979 Iranian revolution remains far off.
The Gulf states resent Iran’s deep reach into Arab nations. While
ongoing protests in Iraq and Lebanon suggest Iran has reached the
limit of its regional influence, they are unlikely to reverse
political and military advances decades in the making.
“Cold peace is possible but we are certainly far from a grand
bargain,” said Afshin Molavi, senior fellow at the Foreign Policy
Institute at Johns Hopkins.
“For that, both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi would have to accept a role for
Iran in Arab countries such as Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.”
As they explore ways forward, Gulf states are moving at different speeds.
The U.A.E. broke with the U.S. and Saudi Arabia by not naming Iran as
the culprit behind attacks in May and June on oil tankers as they
sailed toward the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s foremost oil shipping
It sent coast guard officials to Iran for the first time in six years
and Rouhani hinted at other meetings with senior U.A.E. officials.
“We’re moving toward improved relations,” he said Oct. 14. Saudi
Arabia is catching up.
Washington built a multilateral naval operation to protect shipping in
the Gulf after the attacks and sent more troops to Saudi Arabia.
Both actions resulted in a “down tick” in Iranian actions,” U.S.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Nov. 13. “The Iranians should not
mistake our restraint for weakness.”
Where the U.S. holds back, however, others are crowding in. Besides
his role in saving Bashar al-Assad’s regime, Russian President
Vladimir Putin has forged a partnership with Iran, created an oil
alliance with Saudi Arabia and built ties with Egypt’s Abdel-Fattah
El-Sisi, who was warned by the U.S. last month against plans to
purchase Russian jets.
Putin traveled to Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. in October after visits
by the Saudi king and the U.A.E.’s de-facto leader Mohammad bin Zayed
to Moscow. The two Gulf countries and Russia have signed deals valued
at billions of dollars.
For Iran’s Rouhani, the case for regional engagement is obvious.
“Don’t you know that Iran is going to stay here and we will remain
neighbors throughout history?” he has said, referring to Iran’s Arab
“Trump will only be around for a few years and will go back to
whatever it was he was doing.”
After His Mysterious Death, the Media Scrambles to Get its Story Straight About White Helmets Founder James Le Mesurier @MintPressNews @VanessaBeeley
Law & Politics
In November 11, 2019, the British founder of the notorious White
Helmets, James Le Mesurier, died in Istanbul, Turkey.
The circumstances surrounding his death immediately elicited a flurry
of Turkish and corporate media reports, many of them contradictory, as
the details of his final hours came to light.
Mark Urban, the diplomatic editor at BBC Newsnight, immediately
tweeted that “a former colleague” had told him it was impossible to
“fall from that balcony,” referencing Le Mesurier’s reported cause of
death and intimated that there may have been “state involvement.”
Urban did not identify his mysterious “former colleague” or explain
what made him sufficiently qualified to conclude that Le Mesurier’s
death may have been a state-sanctioned hit.
Urban, declaring ignorance over Le Mesurier’s suspected ties to
Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency, then suggesting that a “black
propaganda campaign by Russian and Syria media and their social media
acolytes” against Le Mesurier was “a prelude to murder” (emphasis
Extraordinary claims for a journalist to make prior to the publication
of any official autopsy.
Urban deleted his tweets soon after, maintaining that “there is a good
deal of suspicion it may be murder by a state actor, but others
suggest he may have taken his own life.” Did Urban jump the gun? Was
he instructed to delete the tweets, and if so, by whom?
Part one of this series will attempt to bring a greater degree of
transparency and context to the Le Mesurier affair by examining his
role in Syria and his financial responsibility as founder of Mayday
Rescue, an NGO he established in 2014 to act as the UK Foreign
Office’s (UK FCO) implementing partner, responsible for the management
of the White Helmets.
Suspected collusion between Le Mesurier, his Mayday Rescue colleagues
and UK state media to crush dissent or questioning of the
establishment narrative on Syria will also be examined.
Raed Saleh is the “chairman” of the White Helmets. Saleh has
connections to extremist armed factions and individuals inside Syria.
In fact, he was refused entry into the United States in April of 2016
because of these “extremist connections.”
Saleh writes for The Guardian, although he does not speak a word of
English. His appearances at UN-sponsored events and in the corporate
media appear heavily scripted and managed. So, when Saleh announced
that Le Mesurier was not the founder of the White Helmets, alarm bells
Apart from the fact that Le Mesurier was active in various areas of
NATO intervention, suggesting he had links with British intelligence
agencies, The Guardian itself previously stated categorically that Le
Mesurier was working for British military intelligence during his time
in Kosovo in 1999.
With so much money passing through his hands – Western governments
sent upwards of $200 million to the White Helmets – and such lax
controls the temptation to defraud must have been immense.
Certainly, the pressure was building and Le Mesurier must have been
feeling the heat as the Douma chemical attack narratives were
collapsing under the weight of the exposure of manipulation,
obfuscation, and staging by the White Helmets.
Climate change: Drought cuts Victoria Falls to lowest level in 25 years @SkyNews
The president of Zambia has warned of the risk of losing natural
wonders like the Victoria Falls if action isn't taken soon on climate
In an exclusive interview from the State House, in the capital Lusaka,
Edgar Lungu told Sky News that climate change is having a devastating
effect - and the impact is being felt most of all in developing
countries such as Zambia.
Mr Lungu said there is still hope, but only if rich countries do more
to mitigate the results of global warming and help less well-off
Drought has reduced the water levels of one of the world's natural
wonders to its lowest level in about 25 years.
The landlocked country of Zambia, which has a heavy dependency on
hydropower, has seen a drastic cut in the amount of electricity which
can be generated.
It has led to daily power cuts in Zambia and neighbouring Zimbabwe,
where the falls form a natural boundary.
The Kariba Dam - the world's largest reservoir which straddles the
Zambezi River upstream of the falls - is down to a quarter of its
Zimbabwe's finance minister Mthuli Ncube told the Reuters news agency
that the water in the Kariba reservoir was at a drastically low point
and said "we are dangerously close to a level where we have to cut off
The Zambian leader has revised GDP growth for his country from 4% down
to 2% - and many analysts are unsure whether the country will hit this
low target after businesses, including the key copper mining belt,
were hit by the cuts in power.
Press Statement from U.S. Ambassador Daniel L. Foote U.S. Embassy in Zambia
Let us first acknowledge World AIDS Day, which we will celebrate
tomorrow in Zambia. We highlighted this year’s theme, “Communities
make the difference,” last week in Mandevu, with a huge, wonderful,
and exceptionally welcoming group from Lusaka’s largest constituency,
as we opened a clinic in the market.
Many thanks to the PF supporters, who professionally and kindly
provided security for me, showing the benefit of these young men when
they’re not being sent on political errands.
The American people have provided more than $4 billion in HIV/AIDS
support in the last 15 years. Working closely with the Ministry of
Health, we currently have well over 1 million Zambians on
life-changing anti-retroviral medicine, touching close to half of the
families in the country.
By knowing your HIV status and being on treatment, which prevents
transmission, the only difference between HIV-negative and
HIV-positive today is the medicine.
Unfortunately, stigma and discrimination remain as our biggest mutual
challenges in eradicating the AIDS epidemic.
Discriminatory and homophobic laws, under the false flags of
Christianity and culture, continue to kill innocent Zambians, many of
whom were born with the virus.
Your citizens are terrified of being outed as HIV-positive, because of
the inaccurate and archaic associations between HIV and homosexuality.
Lamentably, I will be unable to attend tomorrow’s AIDS Day events
because of threats made against me, via various media, over my
comments on the harsh sentencing of homosexuals.
My job as U.S. Ambassador is to promote the interests, values, and
ideals of the United States. Zambia is one of the largest per-capita
recipients of U.S. assistance in the world, at $500 million each year.
In these countries where we contribute resources, this includes
partnering in areas of mutual interest, and holding the recipient
government accountable for its responsibilities under this
The U.S. government is far from perfect, and we always welcome
feedback, including from Zambia through your embassy in Washington.
If we didn’t, we might not have changed our repugnant laws allowing
slavery and other human rights contraventions, historical misdeeds for
which I passionately apologize.
I highly appreciate the exceptional welcome and friendship extended by
Zambia’s wonderful people throughout my two years here, and I have
nothing but the highest respect for your citizens.
I read with interest Honorable Minister Malanji’s reaction to my
opinion regarding the harsh sentencing of a homosexual couple, and the
hundreds of other comments made by Zambian citizens on social media.
I was shocked at the venom and hate directed at me and my country,
largely in the name of “Christian” values, by a small minority of
Zambians. I thought, perhaps incorrectly, that Christianity meant
trying to live like our Lord, Jesus Christ.
I am not qualified to sermonize, but I cannot imagine Jesus would have
used bestiality comparisons or referred to his fellow human beings as
“dogs,” or “worse than animals;” allusions made repeatedly by your
countrymen and women about homosexuals.
Targeting and marginalizing minorities, especially homosexuals, has
been a warning signal of future atrocities by governments in many
countries. In my heart, I know that real Zambian values don’t merit
your country’s inclusion on that list, ever.
I agree that this this issue is completely up to Zambians to decide.
You are blessed with a diversity of Christian denominations, and while
I understand that many are not Catholic, let me cite Pope Francis.
He has repeatedly spoken about the need for his Church to welcome and
love all people, regardless of sexual orientation.
In 2016, the Pope said, “When a person arrives before Jesus, Jesus
certainly will not say, ‘Go away because you are homosexual.’”
While I am not here to litigate our bilateral disagreements point by
point, I would like to share the U.S. perspective directly, before
it’s filtered through Zambia’s state-controlled media.
I agree that we should be working to improve critical issues like food
insecurity and the electricity shortage, but Americans can’t do it
alone, without cooperation from your government.
The U.S. brought energy experts to work with Zambian ministries for
over two years, and we jointly developed a plan to reform the sector
and ensure better electricity delivery to the people. This plan has
been dormant for over a year, because of domestic politics.
We’ve seen the awful impact of the drought, and I expect to imminently
announce additional American help for those most affected by hunger.
In my two years, I have strived to improve the U.S.-Zambia
partnership, with minimal success. Let us stop the façade that our
governments enjoy “warm and cordial” relations.
The current government of Zambia wants foreign diplomats to be
compliant, with open pocketbooks and closed mouths.
Minister Malanji reminded me that I have “always been granted audience
to the Ministry and the Government of Zambia.”
That is not the case. With few exceptions, the U.S. President’s
personal representative to Zambia—me—has been relegated to meeting
with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the Permanent Secretary level.
Despite $500 million in annual American, debt-free support to the
Zambian people, I have been granted exclusive bilateral audience with
the President only five times in two years, usually with delays of
months upon my request, and little action of mutual interest has been
taken by State House.
Last week, we rearranged my schedule—and I’m somewhat busy
administering a half-a-billion dollars in annual programs here—to meet
with the President on Friday. On Friday, State House told me to come
Saturday, a day already filled with rescheduled meetings. That’s not
Both the American taxpayers, and Zambian citizens, deserve a
privileged, two-way partnership, not a one-way donation that works out
to $200 million per meeting with the Head of State.
The Foreign Minister accused me of interfering with Zambia’s internal
affairs, as he has done each time any foreign diplomat accredited to
Zambia offers an opinion different to that of the current Zambian
government, and of “questioning the Zambian constitution.”
I just re-read Zambia’s entire constitution, which I believe is an
admirable document, and there is no reference to “having sex against
the order of nature,” or of homosexuality for that matter.
Your constitution does declare, however, to uphold “a person’s right
to freedom of conscience, belief or religion; the human rights and
fundamental freedoms of every person;” to “respect the diversity of
the different communities of Zambia;” and to “promote and protect the
rights and freedoms of a person.”
It is up to Zambian citizens and the courts to decide if your laws
correspond to your constitution, but your constitution itself provides
every person the right to freedom and expression of conscience and
I expressed my belief about a law and a harsh sentencing I don’t agree
with. I didn’t interfere in internal affairs.
When considering the status of Zambia’s “very independent” judiciary,
I note the President’s strong, recurring statements in July through
yesterday rejecting homosexual rights and “gayism.” I wonder if that
could have any impact on the courts.
Again, this is a matter for the Zambian people to decide, but the
Zambian people deserve transparency and truth.
Regarding the Minister’s denials over my comments about government
officials stealing millions of dollars in public funds, the government
always requests “evidence” of such misdeeds. Is that really the role
of the international community?
In recent history, numerous donor partners have carried out
investigations, with the cooperation of the Zambian government,
concluding that many millions of dollars have been misappropriated in
the Ministries of Community Development and Social Welfare, Education,
In most cases, the Zambian government assumed responsibility and
quietly made restitution to the donating organizations from public
However, like the lack of public information made available on
Zambia’s debt acquired over the past few years, the government has
chosen not to share this vital data with its citizens, nor have we
seen assertive corruption prosecutions.
If this happened with funds from a handful of donors in a few
ministries, what could be happening on a broader basis?
Hundreds, maybe thousands, of Zambian citizens have expressed despair
to me about sharing conflicting opinions, fearing intimidation,
imprisonment, physical assault, closure of media houses, etc.;
examples of which are well documented in recent years.
These dissenting opinions are certainly not shared by state-controlled
media such as ZNBC, Zambia Daily Mail, and Times of Zambia. It’s time
to advocate for a real voice for all Zambians and uphold a person’s
right to freedom of conscience and belief.
I have consistently pledged that it’s not my place to tell Zambia what
to do, but that I would always be honest and frank. The exceptional
yearly assistance from American to Zambian citizens, and the
constitution of Zambia, should enable all of us to express our
opinions without acrimonious accusations or actions.
I hope the government of Zambia commits to improve its decaying
relationship with the United States, but that is a decision for it to
Zimbabwe Is Trying to Build a China Style Surveillance State @vicenews
The end of Robert Mugabe’s brutal 37-year dictatorship over Zimbabwe
in 2017 was greeted by scenes of wild jubilation on the streets of
Harare by people who’d seen their dream of independence from minority
white rule turned into tyranny under the aging dictator’s leadership.
But it was on social media that Zimbabweans first found their voice to
rise up against the 93-year-old strongman, with platforms like
WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter proving to be vital in mobilizing and
coordinating countrywide protests.
Now, just two years later, activists say the government that replaced
Mugabe’s is trying to silence those same social media accounts with
legislation that bears all the hallmarks of China’s dystopian
censorship and surveillance system.
“It is a terrifying piece of legislation”
Zimbabwe’s Parliament is weighing legislation that would authorize the
use of surveillance technologies, grant sweeping powers to crack down
on social media users, and allow the government to snoop on citizens’
The latest version of the bill — known as the Cyber Crime, Cyber
Security and Data Protection Bill of 2019 — was passed by President
Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Cabinet last month and is currently being drafted
for publication and approval by Parliament, where it’s expected to
easily pass under Mnangagwa’s Zanu-PF party majority.
Activists warn things could get ugly soon after that.
“It is a terrifying piece of legislation,” Bekezela Gumbo, a
researcher at the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, told VICE News. “It
has everything it needs to give the ruling Zanu-PF party and its
agents in government the legal basis to imprison opponents using the
Although the public still doesn’t know exactly what the final version
of the bill will contain, activists say it’ll likely be overly broad
and lacking the sort of necessary protections that rights groups have
called for in the past.
“The definitions of crimes were described in such broad terms that
they could arrest people because they have said something on a social
media platform to criticize the government or say something that is
unfair to government,” Kuda Hove, a legal expert with the Media
Institute of Southern Africa, told VICE News, referring to a previous
draft of the bill he’d seen.
Back in 2016, social media was the spark for the protests that would
ultimately lead to Mugabe’s ouster in 2017. It was on Facebook,
Twitter, and critically WhatsApp that the genesis of the protest
movement began to take shape.
At the time, WhatsApp accounted for over one-third of all mobile data
used in Zimbabwe as citizens shared anti-government news and
information about demonstrations.
Officials were powerless at the time to stop the surge in online
dissent, and they began exploring ways to curb it. It was during that
period, as Mugabe was losing his grip on power, that the first version
of the Computer Crime and Cyber Crime Bill was drafted.
Since Mugabe’s departure, the bill has seen a number of revisions. The
most recent version remains shrouded in mystery, but it includes a
vague mandate to protect “cyberspace,” according to Mnangagwa.
The president’s office did not respond to multiple requests for
comment on the latest bill approved by the Cabinet.
The only official who would speak was Ivanhoe Gurira, the principal
director at the Ministry of Information, who denied the bill was meant
to promote censorship, claiming Zimbabwe has other laws that help
protect access to information and freedom of speech.
When asked about the criticism from activists about the new law,
Gurira said: "Only those people that want to operate outside the law
would say so.”
But Mnangagwa’s government has already shown its willingness to
restrict online speech.
In January, the government partially shut off internet access and
blocked access to social media platforms including Facebook, WhatsApp,
Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, and Tinder.
The move came as the government struggled to contain protests over a
sharp spike in fuel prices and generally deteriorating economic
The internet shutdown was soon followed by a brutal military crackdown
that left a dozen people dead and over 170 more injured.
Access to the internet was restored a week later, but only after the
High Court ruled the government’s order was illegal. Free speech
activists say the new cybercrime bill would essentially make another
“You can't overstate how deep the ties go between these two
governments,” Eric Olander, managing editor of the nonpartisan China
Africa Project, told VICE News. “They go back a long way together and
there's no indication either side is wavering in their mutual
commitment to one another.”
On the technology front, China is already helping the Zimbabwe
government keep a closer eye on its citizens. As part of Beijing’s $71
million Belt and Road investment in the country, the Zimbabwe
government has partnered with Chinese facial recognition company
CloudWalk Technology to create a surveillance network similar to the
one deployed to monitor Uighurs in Xinjiang.
The deal sees CloudWalk technology monitoring major transport hubs and
using the data to build a national facial recognition database. The
deal also gives the Chinese company access to a rich trove of data on
Critics worry the new cybersecurity law would augment this nascent
surveillance network by monitoring citizens’ online activities as well
as their offline movements. And while China’s involvement in
Zimbabwe’s surveillance plans remain far from clear, experts expect
Harare to lean heavily on Beijing’s expertise to roll it out.
"We probably don't need a lot of evidence to draw the conclusion that
China will likely lend its expertise to building this kind of digital
surveillance, given the trust that exists between these two
governments and China's expertise in this area,”
Olander said. “Plus, the Chinese have an entire mechanism in place to
provide the financing, implementation, and training on how to use
technology like this.”
In fact, the Zimbabwean government may have already been inspired by
China during the drafting of the new legislation.
Officials from the Zimbabwean government were among representatives
from three dozen countries who travelled to China in recent years to
for weeks-long seminars on information management, according to Sarah
Cook, a senior China researcher with Freedom House.
With China’s expertise, Mnangagwa’s government could get closer to
stemming the sort of upheaval that toppled his predecessor before it
“This law is a response to the use of social media by activists,
citizen journalists, and researchers during protests, accountability
monitoring, and political mobilization,” Gumbo said.
“This is what the government doesn’t want, and the bill is a mechanism
to avoid public scrutiny. It is meant to curtail freedom of
U.S. to Tap $60 Billion War Chest in Boon for @Huawei Rivals @technology
The U.S. has been warning other countries not to buy
telecommunications gear from China’s Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE
Corp. The government will soon put real money behind the effort.
A new agency, called the U.S. International Development Finance
Corporation, plans to tap some of its $60 billion budget to help
developing countries and businesses purchase equipment from other
“The U.S. is very focused on ensuring there’s a viable alternative to
Huawei and ZTE. We don’t want to be out there saying no. We want to be
out there saying yes,” Adam Boehler, the first chief executive officer
of the DFC, said in a recent interview.
He declined to discuss specific company talks or how the money would
be spent. However, the plans would be a welcome boost for Sweden’s
Ericsson AB and Finland’s Nokia Oyj, which have struggled to compete
with Huawei and ZTE equipment that’s often cheaper and at least as
The U.S. could bankroll Huawei alternatives through loans or loan
guarantees to developing nations and companies, or even acquiring
minority stakes in emerging makers of competing gear.
Ericsson shares jumped as much as 4.2%, while Nokia gained as much as
3.2% following the story.
The U.S. government is concerned about Chinese companies dominating
the rollout of faster wireless networks known as 5G.
The Trump administration has said Huawei and ZTE gear could be used
for spying, an allegation the companies have denied. Many countries,
including Germany and France, are reluctant to ban individual vendors
Huawei and ZTE “are state-owned enterprises or government-driven
companies that subsidize their gear in some cases.
The price is decent,” Boehler said. “Longer term, what is the cost of
that? You shouldn’t think as a sovereign country from a short-term
pricing perspective. Our focus is having people understand what
they’re giving up and whether it’s worth it to save some money in the
short term. It’s not.”
The DFC was created last year to provide development financing to
lower income and middle-income countries, which covers about half the
It’s charged with “helping to advance U.S. foreign policy by
countering the growing influence of authoritarian regimes” and expects
to be fully authorized and funded by Congress in coming months.
The DFC’s $60 billion investment cap is more than twice the size of
its predecessor. The new agency can take minority equity stakes in
companies, a new tool beyond existing capabilities that includes
loans, loan guarantees and political risk insurance.
Boehler wouldn’t discuss which DFC tools might be used to support
purchases of non-Chinese telecom equipment.
However, the Financial Times reported in October that U.S. government
officials have suggested issuing credit to Huawei’s European rivals.
Ericsson and Nokia didn’t respond to requests seeking comment.
Another senior government official recently told Bloomberg News that
the U.S. is considering funding mechanisms through the DFC that will
decrease the cost of alternative commercial 5G gear. The person asked
not to be identified discussing unannounced plans.
The DFC is also considering whether to become a founding investor in a
new technology infrastructure fund that will back emerging companies
in 5G, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and other areas,
Boehler said. The fund won’t invest in Chinese companies, he noted.
“This could support bids on spectrum, investments in infrastructure or
the development of a component for 5G,” he said. “We want to make sure
that the next crop of companies, if they’re not U.S.-based, that they
at least adhere to the principals we care about -- the rule of law and
“The real issue about Huawei is not China, it’s security of data,” he
added. “We want to ensure that companies adhere to certain
data-security standards and the protection people’s information.”
Ethiopia is in the midst of privatizing its telecom industry and is
auctioning spectrum and licenses. Vodacom Group Ltd., majority owned
by British wireless giant Vodafone Group Plc, is planning a joint bid
with Kenyan operator Safaricom Plc.
“That is a live example that we can play in,” Boehler said. “There are
no U.S. companies involved at this point, but the British are
Cameroonian government rules out postponing general elections @cgtnafrica
The Cameroonian government ruled out the possibility of postponing
general elections scheduled for February 2020, a government
spokesperson said on Monday.
“The government condemns all maneuvers that amount to blackmail and
one-upmanship, and denounces the various foreign attempts to
interfere, which are in violation of our laws, and which are
advocating further postponements, indefinite postponements, of
announced legislative and municipal elections,” Cameroon’s government
spokesperson Emmanuel Rene Sadi told a press conference late on
Cameroon has already postponed the elections twice and the law
prohibits further postponement, Sadi said.
Last week, Cameroon’s opposition leader Maurice Kamto said his party
Cameroon Renaissance Movement would boycott the polls, citing
insecurity in the English-speaking regions and “biased” electoral
Gross domestic product shrank an annualized 0.6%, compared with a revised 3.2% expansion in the second quarter, @StatsSA @business
Gross domestic product shrank an annualized 0.6%, compared with a
revised 3.2% expansion in the second quarter, Statistics South Africa
said Tuesday in the capital, Pretoria. The median estimate of 14
economists in a Bloomberg survey was for no growth. The economy
expanded 0.1% from a year earlier.
The contraction means full-year economic growth, which hasn’t exceeded
2% since 2013, could be even lower than the 0.5% projected by the
Treasury in October. That will add to the woes of an economy buckling
under failing state companies and ballooning debt that’s been sapping
business and consumer confidence.
Kenya forcing importers to use costly new Chinese railway, businessmen say @ReutersAfrica @Duncmiriri reports
Kenya’s new Chinese-built railway should have been a boon for
business. The $3.3 billion line sliced hours off the journey from the
port city of Mombasa to the capital, Nairobi.
But some importers said their transport costs shot up by nearly 50%
when they used the rail due to extra fees, more time spent clearing
goods at the congested Nairobi train depot and the need to send a
truck to collect the goods from there.
These importers used to truck their goods in from the coast. But port
authorities now say businesses based in Nairobi and upcountry must use
the new line because the Mombasa port is contracted to supply it with
a minimum amount of cargo.
“KPA has an obligation to feed the railway ... we were the guarantors
of the rail,” said Daniel Manduku, head of the state-run Kenya Ports
The railway’s problems are a cautionary tale, both for developing
nations loading themselves with Chinese debt, and for China as it
seeks to expand global trade links and project soft power through its
massive Belt and Road initiative.
“The vast majority of its (China’s) overseas spending has no
detectable effect on economic growth,” said Bradley Sparks, executive
director of AidData, a research facility that tracks development
finance at William and Mary university in Virginia.
China has sought to allay fears that its infrastructure projects
overload some countries with debt.
Last year, it agreed to restructure more than $12 billion in
repayments owed by Ethiopia, whose Chinese-funded railway is also
Now some Kenyan politicians are asking whether their railway was worth the cost.
Hundreds of people - residents, business owners and local leaders -
hold weekly demonstrations in Mombasa against the mandatory movement
of cargo by rail.
“This is a revolution,” lawmaker Mohammed Ali said earlier this month
as demonstrators carried a mock coffin branded “RIP China
Colonisation” in blood-red letters.
The contract between China’s Exim Bank, the Kenya Ports Authority
(KPA) and Kenya Railways requires KPA to provide 1 million tonnes of
cargo to the railway per year, rising to 6 million by 2024.
KPA says rail cargo is expected to hit 5 million tonnes this year,
after more than 4 million last year.
Mombasa is projected to handle 34 million tonnes of cargo this year;
most does not go by rail. Cargo destined for Mombasa, or countries
other than Kenya, can still go by road.
But Kenyan importers in and around Nairobi say they have been forced
to use the line since October last year.
The port confirmed the policy in August, but rescinded the order in
October after protests. Businesses say little has changed and they are
still required to use the more expensive railway.
Port authorities are diverting shipments to the new railway, said a
Nairobi-based customs clearance agent. “You are made to pay for it
whether you like it or not.”
Moving a 40-foot container to Nairobi by rail costs 80,000 shillings
($800) - roughly the same as a truck, said Mercy Ireri, chief
operations officer for the Kenya Transporters Association.
But importers must also pay at least 25,000 shillings for a truck to
collect the goods from the Nairobi depot and 15,000 shillings in depot
fees, said three businessmen who asked not to be named.
Manduku, also a board member of Kenya Railways, said the higher
charges are necessary to meet loan repayments.
Kenya owes Exim Bank of China 660 billion shillings for the railway
and other projects, about a tenth of its total national debt. The bank
did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Kenya Railways did not respond to requests for comment. The China Road
and Bridge Corporation, which built the railway and now runs it
through its Kenya subsidiary Africa Star Operations, said it did not
set policy on cargo.
The exact terms of the agreement are not public.
The new line opened in 2017. Running alongside a dilapidated track
British colonialists built a century ago, it cut the Nairobi-Mombasa
journey to four hours from 12 for passengers and to eight hours from
24 for cargo.
China supported the directive requiring importers to use the railway,
said Wu Peng, Beijing’s ambassador in Nairobi.
“That is a responsible and smart move by the Kenyan government,” Wu
After the directive was lifted, the embassy said the line “has
revolutionized cargo and passenger movement”.
Parliament summoned the transport minister to answer questions about
the cargo policy in November but he did not appear. Esther Koimett,
principal secretary at the department of transport, told Reuters the
government was no longer making importers use rail.
But Daniel Nzeki, chairman of the Container Freight Stations
Association of Kenya, and Ireri of the Kenya Transporters Association,
said port security in Mombasa was still preventing trucks from picking
up some cargo.
“It is a circus,” Nzeki said.