|Tuesday 10th of December 2019
09-DEC-2019 :: Revelation 6:12-13 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth
Revelation 6:12-13 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and
behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as
sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky
fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken
by a gale.
25-MAR-2019 :: :: If You want to measure a Soft Power Leapfrog, Keep an Eye on the Kiwis and this remarkably sophisticated epitome of c21st Girl Power @jacindaardern
From a Geopolitical perspective, the big popping over the Radar
happened in ChristChurch New Zealand. Jacinda Aardern [an agnostic who
took her oath of office without a Bible or mention of God. A living
example that to be a humanitarian you need no dogma; just compassion,
love, an open heart and an open mind @HarounRashid2] shattered the
Glass Ceiling into tiny little pieces.
She is the First Western Leader to seek to assert Narrative control
over ''Terror'' The Symbolism of ''A biker gang providing an escort to
a hearse transporting the coffin of Haji Mohammed Daoud Nabi, killed
in New Zealand's twin mosque attacks, to the Memorial Park Cemetery in
Christchurch'' sums things up metaphorically and even cryptically.
She vowed never to utter the name of the twin-mosque gunman to deprive
him of the publicity he craved. She warned social media companies
saying "they are the publisher, not just the postman".
The Prime Minister of New Zealand asserted Narrative Control and
pushed back at what Don Delillo noted
"I used to think it was possible for an artist to alter the inner life
of the culture. Now bomb-makers and gunmen have taken that territory,"
Don DeLillo, Mao II.
If You want to measure a Soft Power Leapfrog, Keep an Eye on the Kiwis
and this remarkably sophisticated epitome of c21st Girl Power Jacinda
If The Universe Is 13.8 Billion Years Old, How Can We See 46 Billion Light Years Away?
There are a few fundamental facts about the Universe — its origin, its
history, and what it is today — that are awfully hard to wrap your
head around. One of them is the Big Bang, or the idea that the
Universe began a certain time ago: 13.8 billion years ago to be
precise. That’s the first moment we can describe the Universe as we
know it to be today: full of matter and radiation, and the ingredients
that would eventually grow into stars, galaxies, planets and human
beings. So how far away can we see? You might think, in a Universe
limited by the speed of light, that would be 13.8 billion light years:
the age of the Universe multiplied by the speed of light. But 13.8
billion light years is far too small to be the right answer. In
actuality, we can see for 46 billion light years in all directions,
for a total diameter of 92 billion light years.
It’s that space itself is expanding. When you look out at a distant
galaxy, and see that galaxy is redder than normal, the common way of
thinking about it is that the galaxy is red because it’s moving away
from us, and hence the light is shifted to longer (redder) wavelengths
the same way a siren moving away from you has its sound shifted to
longer wavelengths and lower pitches. But that’s still part of
explanation #2; General Relativity adds that extra element in of space
expanding.And as the Universe expands, the fabric of space stretches,
and those individual light waves in that space see their wavelengths
stretch as well! Put that all together, and this means the distance we
can see in the Universe, from one distant end to the other, is 92
billion light years across. And don’t forget: it’s continuing to
expand! If we left today at the speed of light, we could only reach
about a third of the way across it: approximately 3% of its volume. In
other words, due to the Universe’s expansion and the presence of dark
energy, 97% of the observable Universe is already unreachable, even if
we left today at the speed of light.
How George Clinton Funked the World and Made It Out Alive @WSJ
George Clinton has reinvented himself enough for several lifetimes.
During one of his many primes, he led the funk music vanguard as a
multitalented bandleader. In the mid to late 1970s, Clinton merged his
groups Parliament and Funkadelic into a super band of over 10
musicians known for their legendary P-Funk sound.
Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic’s wild imagination and intuitive
knack for branding were the driving forces behind the group’s
Afrofuturistic aesthetic that defined the era. In the ’80s, the band
fell apart and Clinton started a solo career in the midst of a drug
addiction. He released some of his most successful hits, like “Atomic
Dog” and “Nubian Nut.”
Now 78, Clinton has slowed down a bit, but his creativity is constant
and clear. He claimed he would retire from music at the end of the
Parliament Funkadelic tour in May, but he still finds himself on the
road with the band—alongside some of his grandchildren who are now
part of the band.
“I was gearing it up for the band to just take over and go on back out
there, but I’m going to have to hang on a little longer,” he says.
“It’s harder to retire than it was to put down the pipe.”
In an interview with WSJ., Clinton spoke about getting sober, trying
to gain back the ownership rights to his music and some of his
What motivated you to start the process of reclaiming ownership of
your masters and copyrights?
About seven years ago, I decided I got to get rid of this habit
because I can’t make music. It took me that long to realize, because
[record executives] thought I was a smartass.
I could make pretty good records, but you can’t make records like that
and take care of business, and it took me a long time to figure that
I realized I had to actually have all of my energy to be able to fight
for this copyright before it was almost too late. I was 70 years old
and I’m like, “You’ve got to quit right now.”
The motivation was getting rid of the habit and having to get my funk
back, because everybody else had a habit of the funk by now and were
strung out on it.
People were stealing it from us. It was dope music. Some people
sampled it, some people outright stole it—which was the major record
companies and publishers. They outright stole it.
The hip-hoppers, they were just using it, sampling, which is cool, but
now we’re getting all the business part of it together. I’m glad to be
a leader of that, and that’s my greatest part that I feel that I’ve
When did you decide to get sober?
Typically, I don’t get sick too much, and the first time I ever got
sick that I had to go to the doctor, the drugs weren’t doing nothing
for me. They weren’t even real drugs no more, I didn’t even get high.
You just maintain.
So when I got sick, that was the first time I had a chance to actually
rest. In life, you actually have to rest for two days before you can
make any kind of decision.
And when you’re doing [drugs], you don’t ever rest. So it’s hard to
tell somebody to stop doing it, cause they can’t stop long enough to
even think. Now once you do two or three days of rest, then you can
actually make a decision.
I realized, I’m 70 years old. I can’t fight this sh—. I also couldn’t
fight the record companies, the publishing companies and the lawyers.
If I was going to be getting sick, I couldn’t do what I used to
anymore. I had to stop.
I knew it was important to do the book, the two albums and start the
plan for the copyright recaptures. And that was what gave me the
energy, because I’m getting old.
What helped you create your innovative sound?
Coming out of the doo-wop era, we were just a singing group. We got
one hit in ’67. As soon as we got the hit, we wanted to be on Motown
[Records] and wanted to be like the Temptations, a stand-up singing
But just as we got our first hit record, the industry changed. We got
a record called “(I Wanna) Testify,” and as soon as we got that, the
Rolling Stones and the Beatles popped up on the scene.
At the same time you got Sly Stone in from the West Coast with the
horns, which wasn’t a stand-up singing group. All that became the hit
And as soon as we got our hit record, everything changed from the
suits and everybody was hippies. So, we had to flip it real quick. We
worked in a barbershop, and we made people cool so we thought we were
good at coming up with looks.
All of a sudden, James Brown was talking about getting rid of your
[hair] process and everything. So we said, We’re not going to stop at
just being hippies.
If we’re going to be that way, we were going to be stupid about it. We
going to wear sheets. We wore diapers, we wore wigs, and we just tried
to clown it because it was so far away from what we thought we were
going to be doing.
We thought we were going to be players with suits and the pimp look,
but that was corny by that time.
Then we got the “Mothership” onstage, and we couldn’t just look any
kind of way. So we got lots of fly stuff, leather, tailor-made suits
and foxtail coats. That was until the animal rights people started
looking at us funny, and we realized we had to get some fake ones.
But when we first got it, we had $50,000 coats coming out of the
spaceship. It was good for the photos for that era, and that became
The Mothership was the last time we changed and got back into glitter.
And after that, I tried everything. I have been back to suits, out of
suits and back to glitter again.
How did the Mothership become a symbol for people? It’s currently in
the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture.
Back in 1975, when we did the album, during that time Broadway shows
were big. The Beatles were doing their big production, Hair! was big,
and we wanted to do something like that for funk.
We wanted to have a funk opera. So once we got the hit record
“Mothership,” I went to Jules Fisher, an old Broadway designer who
built sets on Broadway, and had him build me a spaceship that we could
carry around on tour.
We could reassemble it wherever we’d go. Besides being just a rock ’n’
roll, and a jamming party, it was also like church. And that was the
symbol of P-Funk.
You were known for telling your collaborators to try and go to a
deeper emotional place while they were recording. Where did that
technique come from?
Well, you learn that from the blues singers. You get someone like
[Parliament Funkadelic guitarist] Eddie Hazel, who was totally
passionate. He was blues, but Jimi Hendrix had turned him out.
So he realized he played blues like his grandmother played it—but with
the psychedelic—so you’d get a lot of feeling out of him. With his
“Maggot Brain” solo, all I could say to him was, “Play like your
mother died,” and if he’d say, “F— you,” it still stuck with me that
he knew what I meant.
“Atomic Dog” [released in 1982] signaled a shift into your solo
career. Tell me about the kind of place you were in when it was
Oh, I was acting the fool. And I was on one. I was feeling like I was
being dogged. That’s what happens when you’re cracked out.
That’s where I was at during that particular time. I’d run out and I
went in the studio paranoid because I thought they were trying to
record without me.
So I had to run to prove to them or myself that I could be in there,
or that I should be in there. I was pretty good at bouncing back. It
was like when you get to a point when you know you’ve f—ed up. I had
to prove I could do it.
Do you have any regrets or is there anything that you would do differently?
I think everything did pretty good because I feel good at 78. It all
pretty much got me to where I’m at now, and I feel real good where I’m
at now. I’ve got all the family, they’re members of the band. It’s
getting good. To me, it’s worked out really cool.
George Clinton: “The Umbrella is a collection of covers of different
albums I’ve worked on with Parliament, Funkadelic, Bootsy [Collins]
and P-Funk over the years. It’s also been made into a print for pants,
jackets, table runners and coffee mugs.
We do a lot of the branding of the P-Funk history, including those
pins. I have my copyright captures, which are still coming through: I
got ‘Atomic Dog’ back, ‘One Nation Under a Groove’ and ‘(Not Just)
All of that is coming together and just a couple more these last legs,
and then ‘We Want the Funk.’ Near it is our Grammy Lifetime
Achievement Award. I’m glad to have it, but they did it to keep me
quiet from screaming about copyright.
The album First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate represents my recovery and
third lifetime, my renewal of everything. I did the book Brothas Be,
Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You?, which is part
of that. And Medicaid Fraud Dogg was also recorded around the same
The shoe is a collaboration with John Fluevog. It sold out in one day.
Next is the small replica of the Mothership, which has been
reassembled for the National Museum of African American History and
Culture. Back in ’75, when Parliament did the album [Mothership
Connection], it was the time of Broadway shows.
The Beatles were doing a big production, Hair! was big and we wanted
to do something like that for funk. We wanted to have a funk opera. So
once we got the hit record, I went to Jules Fisher, an old Broadway
designer, and had him build me a Mothership that we could carry around
At one of Jimi [Hendrix]’s birthday parties [after his death], a group
of us—all the members of his bands, musicians who had performed with
him through the years—played for his father. Somebody painted that
picture of Jimi during the show, and I got everybody to sign it.
In the Motown era, Jimi was the spirit that combined R&B and rock ’n’
roll with what they called psychedelic and made it make sense. Nobody
went that far out with it. It was like avant-garde jazz.” —As told to
Lakin I. Starling
Church nativity displays Jesus, Mary and Joseph in cages, separated at the border @washingtonpost
Law & Politics
A Southern California church flipped the lights on its outdoor manger
scene Saturday evening to reveal Jesus, Mary and Joseph as border
detainees, each figure isolated in its own chain-link cage with a
The nativity display from Claremont United Methodist Church, a
suburban congregation east of Los Angeles, is raising both praise and
ire for its depiction of the biblical story of Jesus’s family fleeing
to Egypt in the context of controversial U.S. immigration policies.
The nativity is meant to highlight the plight of migrants and
refugees, a longtime cause for this 300-member congregation, said the
Rev. Karen Clark Ristine, the church’s senior pastor.
“Our intent is to focus on the asylum seekers and the ways they are
being greeted and treated and to suggest there might be a more
compassionate way to show God’s love,” Ristine said. “I think as
Christians we have a responsibility to proclaim a narrative that might
be counter to what the world thinks.”
Iran to raise taxes as US sanctions hit oil revenues @FinancialTimes
Law & Politics
Iran is to reduce its reliance on oil exports by increasing taxes,
borrowing more money and cutting energy subsidies, as President Hassan
Rouhani vowed on Sunday that the Islamic republic could withstand the
pressure wrought by tough US sanctions and the most violent unrest
seen in decades.
With oil revenues expected to fall by 70 per cent, the budget for the
next Iranian fiscal year “is designed to resist against sanctions and
to announce to the world that we run this country despite sanctions”,
Mr Rouhani told parliament on Sunday as he unveiled the budget for the
fiscal year that starts in March.
“The budget will not depend much on oil revenues because of the
[difficult] conditions we foresee.”
The coming year’s budget, which needs to be approved by parliament, is
now expected to total 4,845 trillion rials. This equates to $115.3bn
at the official government-approved dollar exchange rate used for some
commodity imports or just under $40bn at the unofficial free market
The Islamic republic has forecast that its crude exports will generate
about 482 trillion rials next year, almost 70 per cent less than this
year. This equates to a sale of about 500,000 barrels of oil a day,
domestic media suggest, down from 2.8 million barrels per day before
the reintroduction of sanctions in May after Donald Trump withdrew the
US from the landmark nuclear deal agreed with world powers.
The government will also sell more Islamic bonds in the domestic
market to make up for the shortfall in oil revenues and expects to
raise 114.8 trillion rials from the sale of state-run companies.
The government also plans to increase revenues from taxes by 13 per
cent to 1,950 trillion rials, a further blow to businesses already
struggling in a slowing economy.
The IMF has forecast that the Iranian economy will shrink by 9.5 per
cent this year.
“We can clearly see in the budget bill that the government’s revenues
have hit bottom because of sanctions,” said an economic analyst. “Iran
is squeezing all sectors to generate income but it is not clear if
putting pressure on other sectors will bear fruits when private
businesses feel squeezed too.”
The government’s decision last month to increase petrol prices by half
prompted the worst unrest since the Islamic revolution in 1979.
Hundreds of thousands of Iranians took to the streets, prompting a
severe crackdown. Amnesty International put the number of deaths at
Despite the unrest, Tehran is sticking with its plan to reduce
subsidies on energy and also expects to cut subsidies for gas,
electricity and petrol as well as fuel for petrochemical plants.
In order to ease the burden on poorer families, it will give cash
handouts to the worst affected. Government salaries are expected to
rise 15 per cent, while the budget for the health sector is expected
to rise 83 per cent.
“We are aware that people feel under pressure because of sanctions and
their purchasing power has decline . . . but we are trying to ease the
pressure,” Mr Rouhani said.
“Under the current circumstances, we face numerous difficulties in
imports and exports and financial transactions and have problems in
The welfare measures, however, may not make the difference that many
people expect. “You may think bread is cheap but I have customers who
cannot afford bread and postpone payments,” said a baker in a lower
class neighbourhood in Tehran.
“More well-off people give me some money [as charity] so that I can
give bread to the poor for free.”
THE JEFFREY EPSTEIN CASE SHOWS THAT PARANOIA IS THE ONLY POSSIBLE RESPONSE TO THIS MOMENT @VanityFair
Law & Politics
The news last week that Prince Andrew had been taken off all royal
duties will hit hardest for those who can imagine what those duties
might have been, or remember which royal Andrew was. (Okay, we know
who Prince Andrew is, but that’s only because he’s a screwup. I offer
a prize to the reader who can name his little brother, the Earl of
Wessex.) But it’s mainly the cause of his demotion that’s important,
because it can be traced back to deceased sexual predator—and what:
financial whiz? blackmailer? Mossad operative? murder victim?—Jeffrey
Epstein. It’s been one more beat in a long sequence of news reports
that touch on Epstein yet fail to get at anything people care about
most. The big mysteries—who the hell this guy was, how he got his
money, what dirt he might have had and on whom, why government
officials went easy on him, why no one can find his associate
Ghislaine Maxwell—remain as unsolved as they were months ago. All of
this is perfect fodder for anyone with a paranoiac’s view of the
world, but, increasingly, that’s all of us. Just this past month we
could read that a Spanish security company managed to film and record
Julian Assange in almost every room of Ecuador's embassy in London,
allegedly passing on its files to the CIA via security officials
employed by GOP kingmaker Sheldon Adelson at the Las Vegas Sands
casino. We learned that Donald Trump and cronies were just the latest
and crudest grifters in a cast of Republican and Democratic
sleazeballs using Ukraine as everything from puppet to plunder buffet,
all in a haze of disinformation as thick as Hunter Biden’s beard. We
could read that two whistle-blowers from the Organization for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons were claiming that the organization
distorted its assessment that Syria’s government had carried out a
chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma. We could see horrifying
illustrations by prisoner Abu Zubaydah of the brutality he experienced
in CIA black sites. It’s no wonder that half of Americans think
Epstein didn’t kill himself, leaving only the other half, who think
the same thing but won’t say it. The outliers are journalists, who not
only believe the official story but insist the rest of us do so, too.
Okay, I exaggerate, both about my fellow journalists and about the
likelihood that Epstein’s death involved foul play. (Given that no one
was caught on camera coming or going, it’s frankly unlikely that
Epstein was murdered, even if it’s not impossible.) But one of the
sadder developments of our time is that journalists seem on the whole
to be getting less skeptical of authorities—with half of MSNBC looking
as if it’s staffed by retired spooks and legacy newspapers citing
political activists as if they’re disinterested analysts—even as most
Americans are going in the opposite direction. Rather than convincing
the public to ease up on this growing wave of distrust, the prestige
press has instead joined countless other institutions in reputational
erosion. I’m enough inside the tent of American journalism to know
that hungry reporters have been drawn to the Epstein case. (The fact
that British outlets are saying more is due mainly to nonchalance
about standards. Sure, it’s juicy that Bill Clinton is reported by the
Daily Mail to have visited Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico multiple
times, but the source is one guy who says he was told about it by
another guy. Pulitzer won’t come a-knocking.) At the same time, you
have to wonder: Why has there still been no exhaustive unmasking by
the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Pro Publica,
or for that matter this or another major magazine? Where’s the sense
of urgency? When the right-wing outfit Project Veritas put out a leak
of newscaster Amy Robach complaining that ABC had quashed her Epstein
scoops for years, mentioning Alan Dershowitz and Bill Clinton and
adding, “What we had was unreal,” outlets like the New York Times and
CNN ignored it, and the few journalists who did bring it up
concentrated most on whether ABC had been justified or craven. Fewer
seemed to pursue the question that preoccupied much of Twitter and the
comments sections: Well, what did Robach have? Can she tell us now? So
it is that more and more Americans are drawn to conspiracy theory, a
term I do not use as a pejorative. After all, any incident of secret
coordination is a conspiracy, and any story we tell about it is, at
least implicitly, a theory. The trouble is that most conspiracy
theories—at least of the sort that aren't universally accepted—are
wrong, simply because of the nature of odds. Every good investigator
tries on and discards countless theories in the course of work, but
all of them, save one, will be incorrect. Anyone could have
disbelieved (although few of us did) claims by George W. Bush’s White
House that Saddam Hussein was hiding a large cache of WMDs and that
the U.S. government knew where they were. But few were the minds who
could have come up with the notion that Saddam Hussein’s regime had
destroyed its WMDs while pretending that it hadn’t in order to scare
Tehran. It’s a conspiracy theory that makes very little sense yet
happens to have been true. In most cases, our conspiracy theories are
wrong. The other problem with our new predilections toward
self-directed detective work, the tragic one, is that conspiracy
theories are the product of lost trust. When you have reason to doubt
the official story, or even the basic decency of those telling it,
you’ll be hard-pressed to avoid formulating alternative possibilities.
Because the reputation of our press has been as much in decline as
that of any other authority, it can do little to quell even the
stupidest ideas. Instead, our news outlets have done better at
disseminating bad notions than debunking them. That’s one reason
Americans continue to believe that Trump had secret channels to Moscow
in 2016 and worked with Russian intelligence to steal the election, no
matter how long and deeply federal investigators worked, without
success, at finding evidence of it. It’s also why a smaller but still
troubling number of Americans continue to believe that Trump is on a
calculated mission to uproot a corrupt and malevolent deep state, no
matter how high up his bumbling and screwups manage to pile. When you
lose faith in your institutions, the world looks sinister. Sometimes
this leads to political revolution and the rise of a strongman.
Fortunately, Donald Trump has more in common with Rufus T. Firefly
than with effective dictators, who tend to be disciplined fanatics.
The more prevalent response is apathy or cynicism, and both are
tempting, especially amid an abundance of laugh-or-cry-style news.
It’s altogether perfect that lawyer David Boies, famous lately for
having done his best to bully anyone who got in the way of sociopaths
like Harvey Weinstein and Elizabeth Holmes, has now switched into the
reputation-washing lane for a spell and begun to represent some of
Epstein’s accusers, albeit not without some ethical hiccups. The
players switch sides, white hat or black hat, and the game continues.
What’s next for Boies? One half expects to learn he has been a lawyer
for Ghislaine Maxwell. And then he’ll have to pick an even better
cause as penance. There isn’t much evidence to suggest that lost faith
gets restored or that paranoia fades away, at least not for the
individual. It looks more like a new generation comes along and, in
blissful obliviousness, sets a happier mood, at least until it, too,
gets walloped by some ugly reality. In China, one generation felt
betrayed by Mao Zedong and another felt betrayed by Deng Xiaoping, but
both are now old, and they were superseded by a nationalistic cohort
that’s far less resentful. Here in the United States, the 1970s saw an
upsurge of paranoia in the wake of disillusionment over Vietnam,
Watergate, and our intelligence services, but those who came of age in
1980s and 1990s and saw the triumph (it seemed) of the liberal world
order were more trusting, at least until the post-9/11 era. In a
decade about 30 million of our adults will be dead and 40 million kids
will be on their way up to replace them, so maybe the mood will shift
once more back to trust, at least of a modest sort. For now, though,
we adults are left to cope with the daily glimpses of darkness,
whether those take the form of Russian skullduggery or deep state
malfeasance or Wall Street predation or sexual blackmailers or any
number of other phenomena that could be less or more serious than we
fear. As long as Americans feel out of control, caught in the grip of
malevolent forces operating out of view, paranoia will remain a
besetting and debilitating component of our public life. Even before
his confinement this year, Jeffrey Epstein had surpassed any
individual in persuading Americans our elites were not only
interlinked but also depraved. The surprise, with his death and its
aftermath, is that he managed to outdo himself.
Shares of wildcatter @TullowOilplc post their biggest-ever drop @markets
Tullow Oil Plc shares had their biggest ever drop after a forecast for
2020 production that analysts said leaves dark clouds hanging over the
The stock sank as much as 62% after London-based Tullow also said
Monday it would suspend dividend payments, while its chief executive
officer and exploration director are to leave.
It’s the second plunge in less than a month for the shares, which
dropped 27% on Nov. 13 after the company said it was reassessing the
commercial viability of discoveries in Guyana, South America.
Tullow on Monday predicted output of 70,000 to 80,000 barrels a day --
down from the 87,000 a day expected for this year -- amid production
difficulties at two key oil fields in Ghana.
“We were concerned that Ghana production would need to be rebased
given recent performance from Jubilee and TEN, but the news today is
materially worse than expected,” wrote Citi analyst Michael J Alsford,
who has a neutral rating on the shares.
Bloomberg Intelligence, Will Hares
Guidance “casts a dark shadow over the company’s outlook,” with issues
at key projects “endemic” and unlikely to be resolved anytime soon
Engagement of a strategic review increases the likelihood of an
eventual sale of the company
Morgan Stanley, Sasikanth Chilukuru
(Equal-weight, price target 252 pence)
Free cash flow now appears “very limited,” in terms of reducing the
firm’s significant debt base
RBC, Al Stanton
Forecast of 70,000-80,000 barrels a day compares with bank’s estimate
of 88,000 b/d
Guidance is likely to have a negative impact on the valuations of key
assets, as well as impacting sentiment toward partner Kosmos Energy
Jefferies, Mark Wilson
(Hold, price target 168 pence)
2020 production guidance of 70,000 to 80,000 b/d compares with
Jefferies estimate of 86,000 b/d
Forecast of 70,000 b/d for following three years compares with bank’s
estimate of 85,000 b/d
@TullowOilplc CEO Quits Over Poor Production From Ghana Fields @business
Tullow Oil Plc’s chief executive officer and exploration director quit
after a slew of operational setbacks, marking the exit of the old
guard after founder Aidan Heavey departed last year. Shares slumped.
CEO Paul McDade and exploration chief Angus McCoss resigned by mutual
agreement and with immediate effect, London-based Tullow said Monday
as it suspended the dividend.
Both had been stalwarts at the company for over a decade, presiding
over discoveries from West Africa to Guyana, but also a 90% slide in
the share price since 2012.
“Whilst financial performance has been solid, production performance
has been significantly below expectations from the group’s main
producing assets, the TEN and Jubilee fields in Ghana,” Tullow said in
Group output next year is forecast at 70,000 to 80,000 barrels a day
-- down from the 87,000 a day expected for this year -- and production
for the following three years will hover around the bottom of that
“This is likely to have a negative impact on the valuations of
Tullow’s key assets,” Al Stanton, an analyst at RBC Europe Ltd., said
in a note. “We expect the pace of exploration activity, and therefore
news flow, to be reined in.”
The shares tumbled 43% in London to 80.38 pence as of 8:06 a.m. local
time. They have dropped 55% this year.
The executive departures come after a year of disappointments at
Tullow, where technical difficulties have hampered output in Ghana,
projects in Uganda and Kenya have faced delays, and results from wells
in Guyana missed expectations. The company reduced its 2019 production
forecast several times as the glitches in Ghana dragged on.
Dorothy Thompson has been appointed executive chair on a temporary
basis and Mark MacFarlane, executive vice president of East Africa and
non-operated, has been appointed chief operating officer in a
non-board role, according to the statement. Les Wood continues as an
executive director and chief financial officer.
The board has started a process to find a new CEO.
The company will reduce capital expenditure, operating costs and
corporate overheads, it said. It sees underlying free cash flow next
year of at least $150 million at $60 a barrel after capital investment
of about $350 million.
Sub Saharan Africa
African Countries Borrowing Like It's the 1990s Worries the @IMFNews @economics
Record commodity prices and low global interest rates have encouraged
African countries to borrow like they did in the 1990s, but now some
are struggling to pay up as their revenue slows along with economic
Government debt as a percentage of gross domestic product in
sub-Saharan Africa has doubled in the past decade, heading back toward
the level it reached in 2000.
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva
said in November this is a cause for concern.
Of the 54 countries on the continent, 20 are near or at distressed
levels, according to the IMF, which means they face difficulties
honoring their obligations.
African governments have raised about $26 billion in international
markets this year, from close to $30 billion in 2018, as they took
advantage of investors’ thirst for returns in a world awash with
Volatile currencies across the continent increase the risks of
borrowing in hard currency and the rising cost of serving debt could
crowd out other expenditure in a region that’s home to more than half
of the world’s poor people.
“The conditions are ripe for a much higher level of debt distress,”
Sonja Gibbs, head of sustainable finance at the Institute of
International Finance, said by phone.
“Whatever triggers the next crisis, when it happens, you are likely to
see a high degree of contagion risk because investors have been moving
into higher yielding assets.”
Still, the continent is far from a debt crisis, its biggest
multilateral lender says.
“Some individual countries are getting to higher levels in terms of
debt-to-GDP ratios, that’s the concern,” African Development Bank
President Akinwumi Adesina said in an interview. The debt-to-GDP ratio
of Africa is still “well within acceptable limits,” he said.
More reliance on commercial bonds has raised servicing costs,
diverting funds that could be spent on new roads or schools. Nigeria,
the continent’s top oil producer, spends about the same amount every
year on repaying debt as it does on infrastructure.
Countries such as South Africa, the continent’s most industrialized
economy, are raising debt levels and this year had its biggest
Eurobond issuance yet to help plug a widening budget deficit as
economic growth slows and public-sector wages and bailouts for state
companies sap resources.
External debt payments now eat up on average about 13% of the revenue
of African governments from 4.7% in 2010, according to data compiled
by the U.K.-based Jubilee Debt Campaign.
Overspending and crashing commodity prices in the 1990s led to a debt
crisis that prompted multilateral lenders and rich nations to write
off the obligations of dozens of African countries in 2005. This time
around a debt pardon may not be that easy.
The complex debt structure with opaque terms and mix of different
creditors will make any potential restructuring agreement more
''We’re concerned that debt relief might now become more complicated,”
said Jan Friederich, a senior director at Fitch Ratings.
“Nowadays there is a greater concern that governments, when they
forgive any debts, might not actually help the African countries very
much, but might primarily be bailing out the commercial creditors.”
09-DEC-2019 :: Time to Big Up the Dosage of Quaaludes
I could have written about the Banana that was duct taped to a Wall at
Art Basel Miami Baech, sold for $120,000.00 and then eaten by a Fellow
called David Datuna. Perrotin Gallery spokesman Lucien Terras told the
Herald that Datuna did not "destroy" the artwork because "the banana
is the idea" I could have written about How ''The presidents free
lawyer took Wizz Air to Ukraine for all the Criming'' [@MollyJongFast]
However, What with the Victoria Falls now a trickle, a Famine
ravaging the Land in Southern Africa, Floods and Desert Locust swarms
in Eastern Africa, Buildings collapsing in Nairobi, You might finding
yourself turning to the Bible and reading verses about the signs of
the End Times.
Luke 21:11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places
famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs
Revelation 6:12-13 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and
behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as
sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky
fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken
by a gale.
And then You might cast your Mind back a few years and recall the
IMF's Africa Rising conference in 2014 when I quaffed the most
flavoursome Tiger Prawns and in between mouthfuls the conversation was
all about how Africa was finally rising and Fund Managers from far and
wide were salivating at double digit local currency yields and life
was hunky dory and so peachy. What we know now and that's after the
Tuna Bond Scandal is we were all popping Quaaludes [Quaaludes
''promote relaxation, sleepiness and sometimes a feeling of euphoria.
It causes a drop in blood pressure and slows the pulse rate. These
properties are the reason why it was initially thought to be a useful
sedative and anxiolytic It became a recreational drug due to its
Today wherever You care to look [There are a few exceptions, Egypt is
one, Cote D'Ivoire another], we are looking at ''the decay Of that
This week Moodys Investor Services downgraded Nigeria to negative and
we learnt that Foreign Investors are propping up the Naira to the tune
of NGN5.8 trillion ($16 billion) via short term certificates. Everyone
knows how this story ends. When the music stops, Everyone will dash
for the Exit and the currency will collapse just like its collapsing
in Lusaka as we speak. Nigeria matters and it has not posted positive
GDP growth above its population growth for a number of years.
Essentially Baba Go Slow's Nigeria is in reverse gear as is
Ramaphosa's South Africa which reported -0.6% Q3 2019 GDP. President
Ramaphosa, however, was awarded with the Grand Croix de l'Orde
National du Merit, on behalf of the Grand Master, His Excellency
President Alpha Conde of the Republic of Guinea. The Two biggest
Beasts in Sub Saharan Africa are essentially providing fewer
Opportunities and their Citizens have been becoming worse off year
after year for more than 5 years now.
What is also clear is that currencies represent the best Proxy.
Bloomberg reported last week that the Ghana Cedi is headed for its
25th straight year of depreciation against the dollar. The cedi is
down 13% so far in 2019, according to data compiled by Bloomberg
Decades of high inflation led to a redenomination in 2007, when the
new cedi was phased out and replaced by the current currency at a
ratio of one to 10,000. It has since lost about 80% of its value. And
Ghana is often touted as a success story. Bloomberg was also reporting
on Friday that Zambia’s kwacha fell the most against the dollar in
four years and may continue to slide to record lows as “panic buying”
of the U.S. currency sets in, according to FNB Zambia.The currency
depreciated by as much as 5.3% to 15.5750 per dollar, bringing its
drop so far this year to 21% and making it the world’s third-worst
performer in 2019. Thursday was the first time it reached 15 per
dollar. Zambia’s economy has been ravaged by a regional drought and
repeated budget deficits that have sent government debt soaring.
Economic growth won’t reach 2% this year, according to the
International Monetary Fund, while sovereign debt will end 2019 at
91.6% of gross domestic product.Currency weakness makes servicing
foreign loans more costly and could also drive up an inflation rate
that’s already at 10.8%, the highest since 2016.
The kwacha’s depreciation is “regretable” and the central bank is
looking at ways to arrest the slide, Vice President Inonge Wina told
lawmakers Friday in Lusaka, the capital. They are still popping
Quaaludes in Lusaka.
Stratfor has headlined their latest article about Zimbabwe as follows
''As Its Economy Worsens, Zimbabwe Teeters on the Edge of Chaos'' and
the first sentence reads With an increasingly cash-strapped and hungry
citizenry, the survival of Zimbabwe's current government will hinge
heavily on keeping its security forces paid and happy.
Here in Kenya David Ndii headlines his latest Opinion Piece in the
Elephant ''An IMF Straightjacket Is a Fitting End to Jubilee’s Reign
of Hubris, Blunder, Plunder, Squander and Abracadabra''
Meanwhile, Jack Ma beats the Drum of the African Entrepreneur and I
will just quote Howard French
Be candid what's really at stake here: interest of players like these
is really harvesting eyeballs, coins aand talent from Africa the
purses of the biggest demographic pool of the 21st century @hofrench
Herve Gogo can have the final word
It’s a big tragedy indeed, for Zimbabweans and for the continent. But
conspiracy-theorists, living mainly overseas, will always find a
reason to accuse the other of being responsible of this self-inflicted
catastrophe. Naipaul would have called them some Kunta Kinte manqués.
Time to Big Up the Dosage of Quaaludes
There are no easy fixes for Nigeria's problems @FT Editorial Board
Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president, is six months into his second
term. A former military leader who returned three decades later as an
elected president in 2015, Mr Buhari still has three years to build a
positive legacy. So far, he has disappointed.
Nigeria is going backwards economically. A combination of anaemic
growth and a fast-growing population means the economy has been
shrinking in per capita terms throughout Mr Buhari’s tenure.
The security situation is unstable, despite some progress against Boko
Haram, the Islamist terror group. Clashes between herdsmen and settled
farmers are affecting much of the country.
Crucially, Mr Buhari’s reputation for personal integrity has not
translated into a discernibly more efficient — or honest — state.
To be fair, the job Mr Buhari inherited is next to impossible. Nigeria
has at least 180m people and some 500 languages. By all rights the
continent’s wealthiest nation, it has more people living in absolute
poverty — defined as below $1.90 a day — than India.
Oil has ruined Nigeria, making it a rentier — rather than a production
— economy. The business of government becomes that of divvying up
revenue, a task that has corrupted the institutions of state supposed
to carry it out.
Mr Buhari has understood this, at least in theory. He has complained
of the manufacturing sector’s seeming inability to produce the
simplest goods, hardly surprising given the lack of electricity, dire
roads and absence of manufacturing inputs.
Rightly, he wants diversification and support for farmers.
Unfortunately, the president has sought statist solutions to these
issues in a country where the state lacks credibility.
That has involved allocating foreign exchange to favoured industries —
not a good solution when institutions are weak.
In an effort to boost rice production, the government has funnelled
capital to farmers and clamped down on imports of cheaper rice.
Production has leapt 60 per cent since 2013, though ordinary Nigerians
now pay more for the staple.
Imports of smuggled rice are so large the government has taken the
drastic step of closing all land borders. Few think that policy can
There are some glimmers. Nigeria is vying with Kenya as Africa’s most
dynamic tech hub. In November alone, its fintech companies attracted
nearly $400m from foreign investors.
Aliko Dangote, a businessman who has made money through state
protection, is investing $12bn in a petrol refinery that could help
curb the ludicrous practice of exporting crude oil and reimporting
There are signs of more vigour in Mr Buhari’s government too. He has
begun to implement long-delayed reforms to the oil industry.
He is also seeking to raise value added tax by 50 per cent to a
still-modest 7.5 per cent, a small step but better than nothing in an
economy that collects tax worth just 5.7 per cent of output, according
to the most recent figures from the OECD.
He could go one better by removing the petrol subsidy, which distorts
the economy and helps the middle class the most.
In the time he has left, Mr Buhari should try to improve the
efficiency of the state and its ability to provide public goods.
Turning things around does not mean micromanaging or getting in the
business of capital allocation. Rather it means reducing the space for
arbitrage and non-productive activities such as speculation.
It also means providing the infrastructure, decent health and
schooling that are the foundations of any national project.
The task is formidable, but there is some low-hanging fruit here. Mr
Buhari should grab it before it is too late.
One e-mail from 2014, disclosed at the trial, showed that US$7-million was allocated to "Chopstick" and US$2-million to "Nuy." Globe and Mail @geoffreyyork
The trial heard that “Chopstick” was a code name for Mr. Chang, while
“Nuy” was a code name for Filipe Nyusi, who is now Mozambique’s
“If you want to kill the snake,” he says, “you need to hit the head.”
The ruling party, Frelimo, was infuriated by the T-shirt campaign.
Frelimo supporters went on social media to issue death threats to a
CIP researcher, Fatima Mimbire, who was leading the T-shirt campaign.
A Frelimo member of parliament, Alice Tomas, said Ms. Mimbire should
be raped by 10 men “to teach her a lesson.” Police surrounded the CIP
office for three days, confiscating the T-shirts from anyone who wore
Beleaguered DR Congo rainforest attacked on all sides @physorg_com
Lush rainforest covers millions of hectares of the Democratic Republic
of Congo, a central part of Earth's natural defence against global
warming—but it is under severe threat from a perfect storm of
mismanagement and corruption.
An array of global and local NGOs are in a tense fight to save the
rainforest, which lost an area twice the size of Luxembourg last year
alone, according to Global Forest Watch.
But the problems run right through DR Congo society—from the poor who
rely on charcoal for fuel in a country with meagre supplies of other
power, to the senior officials who profit from illegal logging.
"There are lawmakers and soldiers involved. They don't pay taxes—it's
unfair competition," says Felicien Liofo, head of a wood craftsmen's
Local police say soldiers simply rip apart the fences around the
forest and threaten to shoot anyone who tries to stop them.
The government faces a daunting challenge to protect the rainforest.
Its 2002 forestry code imposed a moratorium on new concessions and
regulated the number of trees that could be chopped down under
existing permits, but officials complain of a lack of resources.
Felicien Malu, a provincial environment coordinator, has roughly 1,200
workers to cover a province twice the size of Portugal.
But his staff, he says, are not paid and lack even the basic tools of
their trade—boats, motorcycles or pickup trucks.
"We can't organise control missions because there are many rivers to
cross and unpaved roads," he says.
His predecessor in the job was suspended for embezzlement, underlining
how corruption feeds the problem of deforestation.
NGOs have launched a multi-pronged attack against the plunder.
Greenpeace Africa and a coalition of eight NGOs from DRC and
neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville have demanded a halt to all industrial
activities in the millions of hectares of peatland shared by the two
The ancient wetlands store huge amounts of carbon, but companies are
involved in oil exploration, logging and industrial agriculture in the
Global Witness investigated the illegal logging trade and earlier this
year accused a general in the Congolese army of illegally reselling
However, DRC remains impoverished and electricity is a rare luxury,
meaning that most Congolese still rely on charcoal as their main fuel
Making charcoal involves chopping down trees and slow-burning the wood
in covered ovens—all of which comes at a steep price for the
"I get through a $30 sackful every two months. That's a fair chunk of
what I earn," says Solange Sekera while shopping at a market in the
eastern city of Goma. "We have no other means of preparing meals."
The trade in charcoal—known locally as makala—is worth millions of
dollars and it is attracting armed groups to the Goma area,
threatening Virunga natural park, a sanctuary for endangered mountain
More than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) to the west, the reliance on
charcoal in Kinshasa is also causing severe problems.
Kinshasa residents consume five million tonnes of wood a year,
according to French research group Cirad, and increasing urbanisation
is just raising the pressure on the forests.
On the hillsides around the capital, there are scarcely any trees left.
NGOs and the government are once again trying to respond.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is trying to minimise the impact
of charcoal burning by introducing "eco makala" ovens that burn the
fuel more efficiently and so use less wood.
And President Felix Tshisekedi is trying to boost electricity across
the country to reduce demand for wood-based fuel.
He has championed hydroelectric power—and ground was broken in early
October on a new dam in Goma.
NGOs and locals are not convinced of the viability of the project, but
Tshisekedi is adamant: "Given the current rate of population growth
and our energy needs, our forests may disappear by the year 2100," he