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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Tuesday 08th of December 2020

Trump’s pathetic endgame: How his lies damage America @NYDailyNews @Kasparov63
Law & Politics

It’s been more than a month since Election Day. Thanksgiving has come and gone, and Hanukkah and Christmas are fast approaching. 

The votes have been counted — two or three times in some cases — and the result has become even more convincing for Joe Biden each time.

And yet Donald Trump and his supporters are still carrying on as if the will of the people will be overturned to pave the way for a second Trump term. 

Having no evidence of systemic fraud, they are spreading increasingly convoluted lies about hacked voting machines, boxes of fake ballots and a conspiracy that involves Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013

Trump couldn’t defeat Joe Biden, so he has turned his sights on an even tougher rival, reality.

This isn’t “4-D chess” or any profound plan to reverse the election. I find any comparison to any kind of chess to be insulting, frankly

Trump’s team has made so many insane accusations that it’s more “Tiger King” than “The Queen’s Gambit.” 

The Soviet way was to invent the crime and then invent the evidence, but unfortunately for Trump, the American judiciary remained out of his grasp. 

Judges in a half-dozen states and of every political background — including at least one Trump appointee — have smacked down the challenges for having no proof, no standing and no merit.

On Friday, California certified its election results and gave Joe Biden the electoral votes required to win the White House. 

All the nation’s electors will meet on Dec. 14 to formally vote Biden in as the 46th president. 

This is usually just a formality, as the result is known and usually acknowledged long before. 

This year was a little different, due to the pandemic leading to a far greater number of mail-in ballots that took a few extra days to tally.

It’s also different because Trump, as I warned he would do, has refused to concede despite every swing state certifying its results for Biden, several including hand recounts that verified the original counts almost perfectly. 

At this point, Hugo Chavez has a better chance of coming back to life than Trump’s reelection effort does of succeeding.

I’ve made many dire predictions about the depths Trump might sink to, and I have to admit that I’ve often been wrong. It’s usually even worse. 

Trump’s ability to scrape the bottom and then go lower still is simply impossible to overestimate.

Trump isn’t letting a little thing like reality stop him. Why start now? The subjects of “the Russia hoax” and “the COVID-19 hoax” were both quite real, and that hasn’t stopped Trumpists from denying them to this day

“The election hoax” is another Trump loyalty test, a way for Trump to dare Republicans to point out, at long last, that the emperor has no clothes. 

Anyone who admits that the election was fair and won by Biden is tossed under the bus and accused of disloyalty, including various Republican governors, attorneys general and election officials. 

They have committed the unforgivable sin of being loyal to their oaths of office, to the Constitution of the United States, and to observable reality, instead of to the Dear Leader. 

For this they are excommunicated from the Church of Trump and declared an enemy of the people. It is very much to their credit.

Trump is using his last weeks in office to focus on a real crisis. No, not the surging pandemic that is now killing around 3,000 Americans per day. 

The only crisis Trump cares about is how to make more money from his position, and his fundraising is in a higher gear now than before the election, surely a first in American history. 

It’s hard to feel sorry for the suckers making these donations, including major donors who see it as an investment in controlling a Trump-led GOP in the coming years. 

The hundreds of millions of dollars Trump is raising for his PAC can be used largely at his discretion.

Aside from the cash, Trump’s frenetic post-election campaign push, not to say putsch, is also about keeping enough political support and influence to help him avoid prosecution now that his presidential immunity is ending. 

It’s easy to understand Trump’s actions when you realize that everything is transactional and for his immediate personal benefit. 

Trump has spent five years attacking the concept of objective truth and its messengers, the free press, in order to insulate himself from justice when damning facts come to light.

Trump’s Saturday rally in Georgia was ostensibly to support Republican candidates in the Senate runoffs, but Trump mostly whined and talked about himself. 

He lied about winning states he did not win. He lied about election fraud. These weren’t “baseless claims” or “false narratives,” by the way. They were lies and must be labeled accurately.

Trump also made explicit the politics of grievance he has specialized in from the start, telling the audience, “We’re all victims. Everybody here.” 

It’s as if he watched a YouTube tutorial on fascist populism and didn’t understand that you aren’t supposed to explain the method to your audience.

Thwarted by the electoral process and an independent judiciary, Trump has moved on to pressuring governors to simply overturn the election results. 

This puts an end to any Republican talking points about “election irregularities” or “counting every ballot.”

 This is a raw, desperate grab for power, and that it so far has failed should not hide its nature. An incompetent, pathetic coup attempt is still a coup attempt.

Now that Trump is in his final days as president, you would expect his stranglehold on the GOP to fade. 

He’s a loser, a one-term pothole on the American highway of democracy. 

Other Republican candidates consistently outperformed him at the polls, demonstrating that for many voters, it really was all about Trump.

Yet most Republicans in D.C. still refuse to admit that Trump lost, and that Biden is the next president. 

They listen to Trump and his coterie spew unhinged accusations and threats and say nothing. 

They watch as he gives a 46-minute speech that would have lasted 46 seconds with all the lies removed. 

Nearly 90% of the 249 Republicans in Congress refuse to say publicly who won the election. 

After four years of feigning ignorance of Trump’s tweets, they are now deaf, dumb and blind to everything the president says or does, including a direct assault on the legitimacy of American democracy — which includes their legitimacy as well.

None of these officials should be forgotten or forgiven for their contribution to Trump’s assault on the fundamental pillars of the American republic. 

They are opening a Pandora’s Box of politicians calling any result they don’t like illegitimate. 

They are enabling a venal television personality who never wanted to be president to desecrate a democratic process that is an inspiration to many around the world. 

What can Republican senators say about defending democracy in Cuba or Venezuela or Russia when they won’t even defend it in the United States? 

How can Republicans stand up to a Vladimir Putin when they can’t even stand up to a lame-duck Donald Trump?

There is much talk of truth commissions and whether Trump has enough hours left in the Oval Office to pardon his way out of legal jeopardy. 

There’s no need for the Biden administration to persecute its predecessor in any political way, but neither should it interfere to stop the wheels of justice from turning. 

After a lifetime of scams, thuggery and bankruptcies, there is little doubt that the Trump clan brought these family traditions with them to the White House. 

If the U.S. wants to clean up its metaphorical house — beyond the literal disinfecting required — it must make it clear that crimes committed in office will not be forgotten when the office-holder leaves.

Impeachment is the only constitutional deterrent for a law-breaking president. 

Sen. Susan Collins said Trump “learned a lesson” when he was acquitted by the Senate along partisan lines in February. She was right: He learned that he could do whatever he wanted, and the GOP Senate would still protect him.

While Trump’s attack on the integrity of the U.S. election system is netting him millions, the cost to American democracy and its credibility worldwide is incalculable. 

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and elsewhere have often waved American flags, a gesture that touches the heart of any American proud of the role their country has long had as a symbol and defender of freedom around the world.

Dictators live in fear of their own people and hate having their illegitimacy pointed out by elected leaders. 

Now they have no less than an American president saying that America is no better, that its elections are a fraud, that the people have no fair voice.

Who cares that it’s a monstrous lie? The autocrats who want to spread that message don’t care about lies and truth. 

For the next four years, Putin and other enemies of the United States will be delighted to amplify Trump’s message that Biden is an illegitimate president. 

It wouldn’t surprise me to see Trump appearing at conferences alongside other modern leaders of illiberalism, from Marine Le Pen and Nigel Farage to Viktor Orban and Jair Bolsonaro. 

Putin and Mohammed Bin Salman will sponsor it all, naturally, because it’s always about the money in the end for such people, and Trump might not be able to squeeze enough from his delusional followers in these final days to pay off his mountain of debt.

A lesson from chess is that you must both learn from your losses and simultaneously put them behind you. 

Gore Vidal’s quip about “the United States of Amnesia” wasn’t intended as a compliment, but there is something beneficial in the American ability to keep moving forward, to keep building up, to keep its collective eyes on the future.

Fueled by generations of immigrants who aren’t interested in old divisions, America has always tried to do the right thing after first trying everything else. 

It must now reinvent itself again as the country that elected Donald Trump as president and lived to tell the tale.

America has sipped the poison of demagoguery and nationalism, as if to see if it was really as bad as everyone said. It was. It is. 

And no matter what Trump says, the antidote was delivered at ballot boxes around the country. 

Now it’s time for America to get healthy and strong again, physically and spiritually, and lead the world in doing the same.

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09-NOV-2020 :: The Spinning Top
Law & Politics

The demise of the Reality TV Star turned seriously vaudeville with Mr. Giulani mounting the last stand from the Four Seasons Total Landscaping next to Fantasy Island Adult Books across the street from the Delaware Valley Cremation Center.

Some Folks seem convinced that the Prophet of Populism Donald J. Trump is going to lead his 70m Disciples into some major 5th generational chess moves but surely just as likely is an Unfolding psychological breakdown played out in front of our eyes on TV like Willy Loman in Arthur Miller's Death of Salesman

“You can't eat the orange and throw the peel away - a man is not a piece of fruit.”

“If personal meaning, in this cheer leader society, lies in success, then failure must threaten identity itself.”

I’m tired to the death. The flute has faded away. He sits on the bed beside her, a little numb. I couldn’t make it. I just couldn’t make it, Linda.

Counterintuitively, The Trump Vladislav Surkov Talking Points which of course always feature George Soros are strangely ineffective and a little like a receding tide.

“My take on Trump is that he is an inevitable creation of this unreal normal world,” Adam Curtis says. “Politics has become a pantomime or vaudeville in that it creates waves of anger rather than argument. Maybe people like Trump are successful simply because they fuel that anger, in the echo chambers of the internet.”

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The wedding of an #Eritrean couple, who came to Israel as refugees, is celebrated in Haifa. This was the first iPhone image to ever receive a World Press Photo Award. Via @nytimes @Sabiniewicz @Allehone

The wedding of an #Eritrean couple, who came to Israel as refugees, is celebrated in Haifa. There are many  African asylum seekers in Israel, mostly from #Eritrea and #Sudan. This was the first iPhone image to ever receive a World Press Photo Award. Via 
@nytimes @Sabiniewicz

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“New accounts only followed Zhao, plus one or two other accounts... A third of accounts liking Zhao's tweet had zero followers”. #Australia @StephenMcDonell
Law & Politics

Seems the controversial tweet by #China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman was boosted by an army of newly-created fake accounts. “New accounts only followed Zhao, plus one or two other accounts... A third of accounts liking Zhao's tweet had zero followers”. #Australia

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Whoever Controls The Narrative Controls The World
Law & Politics

A decade of "semiotic arousal" when everything, it seemed, was a sign, a harbinger of some future radical disjuncture or cataclysmic upheaval.

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The @WHO are going to China for a break.

The WHO are going to China for a break.

This is a time for self-reflection, for all of us involved in the #COVID19 response to look in the mirror; to look at the world we live in and to find ways to strengthen our collaboration as we work together to save lives and bring this pandemic under control.

.@WHO experts will travel to #China this weekend to work together with their Chinese counterparts to prepare scientific plans for identifying the zoonotic source of #COVID19. @DrTedros 

“An inquiry that presupposes — without evidence — that the virus entered humans through a natural zoonotic spillover and that fails to address the alternative possibility that the virus entered humans through a laboratory accident, will have no credibility,” said Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

“To have any credibility and any value, an investigation must address the possibility that the virus entered humans through a laboratory accident and must also address the further possibility that the ability of the virus to infect humans was enhanced through laboratory manipulation — ‘gain-of-function research of concern’.”

Dear @MaEllenSirleaf & @HelenClarkNZ The starting point of your enquiry has to be precisely what is being precluded below because “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers.” #COVID19 

I am convinced that the only ‘’zoonotic’’ origin was one that was accelerated in the Laboratory.

There is also a non negligible possibility that #COVID19 was deliberately released – Wuhan is to the CCP as Idlib is to the Syrian Regime – and propagated world wide.

According to Daszak, the mine sample had been stored in Wuhan for six years. Its scientists “went back to that sample in 2020, in early January or maybe even at the end of last year, I don’t know. They tried to get full genome sequencing, which is important to find out the whole diversity of the viral genome.”

However, after sequencing the full genome for RaTG13 the lab’s sample of the virus disintegrated, he said. “I think they tried to culture it but they were unable to, so that sample, I think, has gone.”

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No-one has ever produced a safe and effective vaccine against a coronavirus. Birger Sørensen, Angus Dalgleish & Andres Susrud

What if, as I fear, there will never be a vaccine. I was involved in the early stages of identifying the HIV virus as the cause of Aids. 

I remember drugs companies back then saying there would be a vaccine within around 18 months. Some 37 years on, we are still waiting. Prof ANGUS DALGLEISH @MailOnline

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Key science behind the success of the mRNA #SARSCoV2 vaccines —A paper that was *rejected 5 times* finally published in 2017 "Full spike plus 2P" @PNASNews @EricTopol

Salvation through vaccination would be dangled like a cat toy in front of fearful populations, each vaccine proving futile @MichaelPSenger

Is the CASYQTQTNSPRRAR a good vaccine target? @flavinkins

It is impossible to ignore the introduction of a PRRA insert between S1 and S2: it sticks out like a splinter. This insert creates the furin cleavage site

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Of Finance

Euro 1.2113

Dollar Index 90.846

Japan Yen 104.08

Swiss Franc 0.8912

Pound 1.3347

Aussie 0.74182

India Rupee 73.7755

South Korea Won 1085.56

Brazil Real 5.0996

Egypt Pound 15.6802

South Africa Rand 15.17

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I did not know--until now--that Richard Nixon attended Ghana's independence celebrations in March 1957. He was then Eisenhower's VP. @Unseen_Archive

Nixon's gift to Nkrumah: a library of 2,000 books & a Steuben vase, empaneled w/ images of the 4 freedoms: assembly, press, speech, and religion.

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@PMEthiopia has launched an unwinnable War on Tigray Province.

Ethiopia which was once the Poster child of the African Renaissance now has a Nobel Prize Winner whom I am reliably informed

PM Abiy His inner war cabinet includes Evangelicals who are counseling him he is "doing Christ's work"; that his faith is being "tested". @RAbdiAnalyst

@PMEthiopia has launched an unwinnable War on Tigray Province.

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Ethiopia telecoms privatization "They are setting themselves up for a massive disappointment,” said one person familiar with the process. @RencapMan

''Instead of raising billions of dollars, he predicted, offers were likely to be in the low hundreds of millions". Not due to the conflict

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Coronavirus Is Helping African Economies Compete @economics

When all is said and done in 2020, African economies will probably have outperformed the rest of the world during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Africa's 54 countries now include seven of the globe's 10 fastest-growing economies, in part because the lethal virus may have improved their competitive advantage as they accelerated their decade-long transformation from exporters of natural resources to hubs of wireless, remotely engaged commerce.

The transition to technology-driven, 21st-century business in a region where people are younger than anywhere else is reflected in the changing landscape of the 1,300 publicly traded companies that make up corporate Africa. 

Communications firms have become a robust presence, making up 29% of the total market capitalization of the continent in 2020 compared to 13% a decade earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg

Materials and energy, the region's benchmarks since colonial times, declined to 23% from 34% during the same period.

Africa has held off the Covid-19 assault better than many developing regions. 

The coronavirus had receded by mid-November in some of the continent's largest countries — South Africa, Nigeria and Ethiopia — to their lowest levels since April or May, according to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

In contrast, Mexico earlier this month became the fourth country to exceed 100,000 confirmed Covid-19 deaths behind the U.S. (257,929), Brazil (169,485) and India (134,218) amid a recent global virus resurgence. 

South Africa, Africa's sixth-most populous country, suffered 20,968 deaths among its 767,759 Covid-19 cases.

The economies of Ethiopia, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ghana, Rwanda and Kenya withstood the economic impact of the pandemic so successfully that they were among the world’s 10 fastest-growing in 2020. 

At least five of them are expected to remain in that elite growth club through 2022, according to forecasts by economists compiled by Bloomberg during the past three months. Two years ago, Africa included only three of the best performers and in 2015 it had four.

Shares of sub-Saharan Africa's 200 largest public companies have appreciated 13% this year as the comparable emerging-market index gained 12% and the more risky frontier-market benchmark lost 3%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg

Corporate Africa advanced 78% during the past two years as the emerging market advanced 33% and the frontier market gained 12%. The same 200 African firms appreciated 324% over five years as the emerging market rallied 67% and the frontier market rose 27%.

Africa's commodity-related companies led all industries with a 188% two-year total return (income plus appreciation) that dwarfed the 37% of global peers, and its nascent technology sector returned 123% when the comparable global benchmark climbed 92%.

The tech stars include Cartrack Holdings Limited, the Johannesburg-based software maker that collects vehicle data transmitted while driving, giving users safety and performance intelligence; its share price has risen 76% so far in 2020. 

CBZ Holdings Limited, the Harare, Zimbabwe-based bank with a burgeoning digital business, was 11 times more valuable this year than last. 

MTN Nigeria Communications PLC, the Lagos, Nigeria-based telecommunications service benefiting especially from Covid-19 lockdowns, has rallied 58% in 2020; the rest of global telecom was down 1%.

Nigeria has had the world's best-performing shares this year. Among the world's 93 major equity markets, the Nigerian Stock Exchange All Share Index of 153 companies was No. 1 with a 27% total return, according to data compiled by Bloomberg

Communications, accounting for 28% of the index this year, up from less than 1% in 2015, gained 68%, surpassing No. 2 health care.

That's a taste of the best likely to come for investors in African companies. Global X MSCI Nigeria, the largest exchange-traded fund in assets invested in the country, has the greatest discount of 32%, which is a record since the fund's inception in 2013. 

Translation: More than 20 Nigerian companies in this ETF appreciated much faster than their global peers, to the point where they are grossly undervalued.

Just as investors snapped up the U.S. companies enabling people to work and play remotely, a similar trend is unfolding across the Atlantic. The global pandemic is everyone's problem. It's proving to be a profit opportunity in Africa.

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Turning to Africa The Spinning Top

So far Africa has dodged the Virus from a medical perspective though it remains in my view a slow burning Fuse and we all know by now ''viruses exhibit non-linear and exponential characteristics'

The real challenge is the Economic Emergency.

The latest Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa projects economic activity in the region to decline by 3.0% in 2020 and recover by 3.1% in 2021. @IMFNews

The IMF is so bright eyed and bushy tailed and I want some of whatever Pills they are popping.

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7 day ave. of new cases • While their averages are still low, the bottom 5 provinces have turned the corner so that means all provinces are now going up @sugan2503

• KZN the one that's going up very quickly now - GP not far behind

• WC went past 1k in the last week & EC still inching up

• While their averages are still low, the bottom 5 provinces have turned the corner so that means all provinces are now going up

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Khartoum deaths highlight Africa’s hidden Covid toll

16,000 undetected deaths in Khartoum, Sudan shine a light on the hidden toll of the coronavirus pandemic in Africa.

Over 16,000 coronavirus deaths in Sudan’s capital Khartoum have gone unreported, according to research by Imperial College London, in results that shine a light on the hidden toll of the pandemic in Africa.  

Research from the university’s Covid-19 Response Team and partners found that 38% of Khartoum’s population had been infected by November 20 and estimated that just 2% of Covid-19 deaths have been reported, with total deaths thought to number 16,090. 

High levels of immunity found after the end of the first wave can be explained by under reporting of deaths, the researchers concluded.  

The research offers a stark view of the pandemic that is not captured in the continent’s official numbers, and challenges the widespread view that African countries have escaped the worst of the virus. 

While coronavirus is reported to have impacted Africa less than other continents, vast numbers of cases may have gone unreported. 

Africa has officially recorded over 2 million cases and almost 50,000 deaths, with 16,052 cases and 1,197 confirmed deaths registered in Sudan by November 23, according to data from Johns Hopkins University compiled by the BBC

Imperial College researchers suggest that a lack of testing capacity and registration systems may partly account for the undercount.  

“Whilst the pandemic has strained health systems to near-capacity in many high-income countries the absence of comparable epidemics in many African countries is notably perplexing. Under-reporting (or under ascertainment) of Covid-19 deaths is a likely candidate for explaining these patterns, however, it is difficult to measure with vital registration systems and limited testing capacity in many countries.”  

Dr Oliver Watson, of Imperial College’s School of Public Health, says the results demonstrate the urgency of alternative data sources for understanding Covid-19’s true global spread. 

“It is increasingly apparent and saddening the extent to which Covid-19 has been able to spread largely unobserved in some parts of the world. As in our previous study in Damascus, Syria, official Covid-19 mortality figures only show a fraction of the burden Covid-19 has placed on Khartoum. This analysis again demonstrates the need for alternative data sources if we wish to understand the spread of Covid-19 globally. We hope our findings reinforce the continued protection of high risk individuals as Khartoum heads into a second wave.” 

Researchers say that action can be taken to lessen the impact of a second wave. If transmission is maintained at current levels and mortality under ascertainment remains at 3%, the researchers predict that a second wave will peak in Khartoum before 2021 and will be similar in size to the first wave. 

The second wave is predicted to be larger than the first wave if mortality under ascertainment is 5%.  

However, the research showed that interventions were effective during the first wave and led to a reduction in the reproduction number from 3.5 to 1 by April 20. 

The ending of stringent suppression measures in July resulted in transmission increasing, with the rate rising above 1 during September. The researchers say that historic mortality investigations can help to predict the trajectory of the second wave and inform how long shielding should be maintained. 

.@imperialcollege Majority of COVID-19 deaths in Khartoum, Sudan are undetected

The majority of COVID-19 Deaths in Khartoum, Sudan are not detected, according to a new report from Imperial's researchers.

The report, from the Imperial College London COVID-19 Response Team in collaboration with multiple partners, reveals that an estimated 2% of COVID-19 deaths have been reported in Khartoum, Sudan. 

As a result, they estimate around 16,090 deaths may have been missed as of 20 November.

By this date, the researchers find 38.0% of the Khartoum population infected. 

The high levels of immunity found after the end of the first wave can be explained by deaths due to COVID-19 not being detected. 

“It is increasingly apparent and saddening the extent to which COVID-19 has been able to spread largely unobserved in some parts of the world.”

If transmission is maintained at current levels and mortality under ascertainment remains 3%, the researchers predict that the second wave will peak before 2021 and will be similar in size to the first waive sustained. 

The second wave is predicted to be larger than the first wave if mortality under-ascertainment is 5%.

Whilst the pandemic has strained health systems to near-capacity in many high-income countries the absence of comparable epidemics in many African countries is notably perplexing.

Under-reporting (or under ascertainment) of COVID-19 deaths is a likely candidate for explaining these patterns, however, it is difficult to measure with vital registration systems and limited testing capacity in many countries.

This report focusses on understanding the true mortality due to COVID-19 to provide a more complete understanding of the size of epidemics.

A mitigated COVID-19 epidemic, where there is slowing but not stopping of epidemic spread, occurred in Khartoum between April and September 2020. 

Reductions in COVID-19 incidence during the first wave were due to both the implemented interventions and increasing immunity in the population.

The research shows that interventions were effective and lead to a reduction in the reproduction number from 3.5 to 1 by April 20. 

Ending of stringent suppression measures in July resulted in transmission increasing, with continued increases in transmission resulting in R rising above 1 during September.

The researchers stress the importance of continued shielding of high-risk individuals to help reduce mortality during a second wave in the absence of implementing new suppressive measures.

In addition, they emphasise that historic mortality investigations will help confirm the level of mortality missed. This can inform the trajectory of the second wave and how long shielding should be maintained.

In September, the team reported similar findings of un-reported deaths in Damascus, Syria. 

Dr Oliver Watson, from the School of Public Health, said: “It is increasingly apparent and saddening the extent to which COVID-19 has been able to spread largely unobserved in some parts of the world. As in our previous study in Damascus, Syria, official COVID-19 mortality figures only show a fraction of the burden COVID-19 has placed on Khartoum.

“This analysis again demonstrates the need for alternative data sources if we wish to understand the spread of COVID-19 globally. We hope our findings reinforce the continued protection of high risk individuals as Khartoum heads into a second wave.”

Dr. Maysoon Dahab of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine explained: “Lockdowns are not considered an option against the second wave in Sudan. There is however a critical window of opportunity for communities to save thousands of the most vulnerable lives amongst them by supporting them to shield through this epidemic’s second peak.”

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The recent deaths from COVID-19 in Kenya of a refugee, a member of parliament and a retired civil servant all happened for the same reason: emergency help was hours away. @Reuters

Nearly three quarters of Kenya’s intensive care unit (ICU) beds are in the two largest cities, Nairobi and Mombasa.

Yet the new coronavirus is spreading into rural areas where the public health system is creaking and scarce ICU units are full and turning patients away, medics round the nation told Reuters.

Christmas travel may worsen the problem - and not just in Kenya.

“That is our biggest fear now,” said John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, a branch of the African Union bloc.

“During the holiday season, there will be a tendency for large movement from capital cities to villages, remote areas, for people to connect with families. That might drive the pandemic,” he told a news conference from Ethiopia this week.

Africa is recording 10,000-12,000 cases daily, moving toward a July peak of 14,000, after most governments eased lockdowns that curbed the disease but decimated jobs.

After measures were softened, Kenya had record daily cases and deaths in November, taking the totals to nearly 90,000 infections and 1,500 fatalities here.

Experts say the real tally is much higher due to inadequate testing and a policy of only counting hospital deaths.

One of those was Justus Murunga, a member of parliament who died on Nov. 14 after developing breathing problems on a visit to his rural home in the Kagamega area of rural west Kenya.

When he arrived at the nearest public hospital, he was turned away because there was no oxygen.

At a private hospital, a 20-minute drive further, medics could not resuscitate him, the Nation newspaper reported.

“Had our hospital been well equipped, our brother could have been saved,” his brother Henry Washiswa was quoted as saying.

Fellow legislators suggested creating a helicopter service for politicians, drawing outrage on social media.

Kenya’s 51 million people have only 537 ICU beds and 256 ventilators, according to a July 2020 study.

“We will have a high mortality rate in the rural areas,” Chibanzi Mwachonda, secretary-general of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, told Reuters.

“Ambulances don’t have fuel, there’s a lack of reagents for testing, contract tracing is weak and referral hospitals are overburdened,” added Mwachonda, whose union is threatening to strike.

The health ministry did not respond to requests for interviews.

In the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya’s remote north west, ICU care is a nine-hour drive away.

That has led to six COVID-19 deaths in a camp clinic due to lack of equipment like a ventilator, a doctor there told Reuters. A 40-year-old South Sudanese woman was the latest.

In the Indian Ocean coastal county of Kilifi, critical patients are referred to ICU wards in Kwale, two hours by ferry, or Mombasa, a one-hour drive away.

The county’s chief health officer Charles Dadu Karisa recounted the case of a former government employee in his 50s who died shortly after being sent to Mombasa. “The patient may have survived if we had our own ICU facilities,” he said.

Even in Mombasa, though, ICU wards at both the biggest public and private hospitals have been full since early November.

“We have no more space,” said a doctor at The Mombasa Hospital, the largest private health facility on Kenya’s coast, lamenting that patients had died at home after being refused admission. “What do we do?”

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Fishing by Lantern on an Island in Kenya @nytimes

As the sun sets over the waters of Kenya’s Lake Victoria, the soft sound of the lapping waves is drowned out by the hum of motors. 

Squinting, I can see them on the horizon, the tiny boats splitting the oranges and blues of the twilight sky.

At first only one or two appear, but soon the few become many, a fleet spreading out over the water, appearing to chase the horizon. 

The vast expanse of the lake, the largest in Africa, appears to swallow the boats as darkness descends. 

But I know their destination and goal: the fishing grounds and the silver cyprinid — known as omena in Luo, the local language in this part of Kenya — that stir in the night under the wind-whipped waters.

Omena are a type of baitfish, less than two inches long, and these fishermen work the night shift to catch them under a blanket of stars. 

But as the boats settle into place for the night, the stars are outshone by the lanterns the fishermen float on the waters to attract the fish to their nets.

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by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
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December 2020

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