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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Tuesday 01st of December 2020

Out of Africa, Procera Gin

Brennan took a trip to meet one of Africa’s greatest distillers, Roger Jorgensen, on his farm in the Western Cape. That was in August 2017. 

Jorgensen has won more awards than you can shake a stick at and has become a guru for the continent’s distillers: Brennan described the visit as “going to the Dagobah system to visit Yoda.” 

In his baggage was an illicit substance, Kenyan green juniper, juniperus procera (hence the name of the gin). Almost every gin in the world uses European juniper, juniperus communis. 

Brennan picked up the story: “When I took a handful of these juniper berries I’d collected myself in the forest in Nairobi to him, and we distilled them, he looked at me and said ‘Guy, this is going to change gin’. 

And since then, that was two and a half years ago, Roger’s sold his farm in Capetown and he’s moved to Kenya.”

It took a while, however, to get the recipe right. The finished gin uses a little Macedonian juniper, about one third. Brennan said it just didn’t taste as good with pure juniperus procera. 

Apart from that everything else is African. The neutral spirit comes from Kenyan sugar cane, there’s Somali acacia honey (incredible on its own), cardamom and mace from Zanzibar (see film above) among the botanical mix. 

They go out and collect the juniper themselves, the only competition are baboons. 

There’s no doubt that it’s one of the world’s finest gins. I tried it at Imbibe Live last year and the freshness and intensity blew me away. 

As Brennan put it: “Green juniper makes a huge difference. That’s what you smell, you smell that fresh brightness, you know? Fresh citrus? It just pops, right? Dried citrus is lovely, but it’s a different, more caramelised nuance.” 

Meeting with Brennan in February he took me through the Procera taste test. First I tried it neat and it’s superb, fresh and spicy, with not a hint of harshness. 

Also very long. There’s a real beginning, middle and end. But the real magic happens when you add ice, it brings out a creaminess, the texture thickens, it’s a joy to swill around your mouth. No wonder it’s proved such a hit with Palazzi at Dukes Bar.

I have been reading 

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“Outside Looking In”: T. C. Boyle’s Drama of Expanded Consciousness and LSD @LAReviewofBooks

DURING THE PERIOD when LSD was legal, various researchers published over a thousand articles on the drug and its effects. Perhaps the most concise description of LSD’s effects on the human mind came from Stanislav Grof, a Czech psychiatrist who personally supervised over 2,500 LSD trips in Prague and in the United States during the 1960s, the heyday of LSD research. Grof argued that LSD functions as a “non-specific amplifier”: it amplifies and enlarges the content that is presented to the user during the trip. If one views a majestic landscape or listens to Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, the aesthetic experience is greatly magnified and enhanced. If Grof’s definition explains the concept of aesthetic enhancement, T. C. Boyle’s new novel explores a more dramatic effect of the LSD trip: ego death. For some characters, the LSD trip represents the experience of being untethered from one’s mind and previous self. Although the untethering process looms large in the Outside Looking In, Boyle’s novel also highlights the sober experience of coming back to reality when the trip is over. Most significantly, the characters in Boyle’s novel must grapple with all of the ramifications of their enlightenment experiences.

Although Boyle’s novel is set in the early 1960s, it feels fresh because there have not been so many LSD-centered works of literature. There is, of course, Hunter S. Thompson’s epic tale of psychedelic debauchery, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971), as well as a few visionary LSD poems written by Allen Ginsberg and the British poet Thom Gunn, but by far the most popular genre of the LSD trip is the counterculture memoir and autobiography. Typically, the LSD trip is presented as a rite of passage for young people coming of age in the 1960s — entailing a symbolic break with the culture of the 1950s and the embrace of a new worldview that revolves around love, peace, and a new understanding of one’s connection to nature and the natural world.

Boyle’s novel revisits the 1960s by focusing on a lesser known historical event: the Harvard Drug Scandal of 1962/1963. Outside Looking In looks at the epoch when psychedelic drugs were legal and actively researched in American universities. The novel also documents the utopian experiments that took place in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, in 1962 and 1963 and the founding of the Millbrook living experiment in upstate New York in 1963. In each case, Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (a.k.a. Ram Dass) and their acolytes (ex-Harvard graduate students and their lovers) attempt to create utopian communities that center around psychedelic experimentation, communal living, and free love.

The early period (1960 to 1964) of the tumultuous decade can be viewed as an incubatory moment of the counterculture. Boyle’s novel explores how the LSD experience has a powerful ripple effect on the user; although the drug is not addictive, repeated use ultimately has what might be described as an “unhinging effect.” Of course, the value of this effect lies in the eyes of the beholder; for some it is enormously desirable, while for others it is nothing short of hellish. Although the characters in Outside Looking In experience dramatic breakthroughs and moral upheavals in their personal lives, the novel focuses on how LSD use can lead to a loosening of sexual mores. Thus, the various forms of sexual experimentation in Outside Looking In highlight LSD’s relationship to the burgeoning Sexual Revolution of the early 1960s.

Boyle’s novel is ambitious in the sense that it provides a genealogy of the early days of LSD. It begins with the birth of LSD in a Sandoz lab in Basel in 1943. While war ravages the neighboring countries, Albert Hofmann, a Swiss chemist looking for a cure for migraine headaches, accidentally ingests a powerful dose of lysergic acid diethylamide-25 during the recrystallization process. On that particular afternoon in April, the dutiful chemist suddenly experiences powerful hallucinations in the lab; at first, he fears that he has been inadvertently poisoned, so he opts to go home and rest. After contemplating the intensity of his hallucinations, Hofmann is determined to repeat the experience and offer himself as a human guinea pig. Susi Ramstein, Hofmann’s youthful Sandoz lab assistant, urges him not to repeat the self-experiment (“Wouldn’t it be better to test it on animals first […] ?”). However, Herr Hofmann cannot be dissuaded because he is convinced that he has made a monumental discovery. During his second self-experiment on the following Monday, Susi follows behind Hofmann as he blissfully bicycles through the outskirts of Basel high on LSD. Hofmann’s glorious bike ride becomes the first intentional LSD trip in recorded history. While still in the afterglow of his historic LSD trip, the ever-cautious Swiss chemist declares that he has had a profound visionary experience:

I experienced things, Fraulein, I’d never thought possible — saw things, saw whether my eyes were open or shut, a whole kaleidoscope of swirling images and colors, and that was only the beginning. It was the most […] eye-opening experience I’ve ever had. Susi, I saw the world as it truly is.

In Boyle’s origin myth, LSD is also a magical elixir that is endowed with erotogenic properties. Susi notes how the wonder drug has enhanced “the secret sweet chemical bond between her and Herr H., and she valued that more than anything else in the world.” Hofmann, the holy father of LSD, can handle the upheaval in his consciousness because he is standing on terra firma in his professional and personal life. However, the other characters in Outside Looking In will not be so fortunate.

After recounting the discovery of LSD in 1943, the novel jumps ahead to the Psychology Department at Harvard University in the spring of 1962. [1] Although Outside Looking In features many actual historical figures from the Harvard Drug Scandal — Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert, and Michael Hollingshead, its central protagonists — Fitzhugh Loney, a psychology graduate student and his librarian wife Joanie, are fictional. Fitz and Joanie are initiated into Professor Leary’s inner circle when they participate in a Saturday night psilocybin session at Leary’s suburban home in Newton Center, Massachusetts. Their first trip produces transcendent sex that revivifies their 13-year marriage. The powerful sexual bonding experience is significant because both partners are equally fascinated with the promise of LSD-induced liberation and enlightenment. The intensity of their first trip leads them to join Professor Leary and his grad students/psychedelic acolytes in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, during the summer of 1962.

While living in Mexico, Fitz and Joanie begin sexually experimenting with other partners while they are tripping. However, it is significant that Joanie does not view their extramarital affairs as “cheating”:

[Fitz had] slept with Fanchon in Mexico, she was sure of that, and maybe Susannah too, though it didn’t mean anything, not when you were under the influence [of LSD], not when you were having a session, because jealousy was ego-dependent, a kind of disease of it, and the whole purpose of the drug was to enable you to let go of the ego and live in the moment. She’d had Ken. And Charlie. And that was nothing. Just brothers and sisters, just […] tripping.

If the marital bond is an elastic cord in Outside Looking In, one question remains for both partners in the Loney marriage: how far can the marital cord be stretched before it snaps? Outside Looking In explores the dilemma from both psychological perspectives. Part II (“Zihuatanejo/Millbrook, 1962–1963”) presents Joanie’s point of view, while the first (“Cambridge, 1962”) and last section of the novel (“Millbrook, 1964”) is described from Fitz’s point of view. The juxtaposition of gendered perspectives is an important narrative device because it highlights how each partner’s conception of liberation is constantly oscillating as their lives move forward in time.

However, Outside Looking In is not simply about the joys of expanded consciousness; it also explores the unforeseen perils of liberation. Fitz and Joanie learn that the idyllic bliss of Zihuatanejo is short-lived because Leary and his cohorts eventually must leave paradise and return to the “real” world once their Mexican summer is over. Prior to Zihuatanejo, Leary and Alpert had become ensnared in a nasty faculty dispute in the Psychology Department in March 1962. Thus, the novel echoes Timothy Leary’s famous observation that LSD is a strange drug, which “causes panic among people who have never tried it.” Thus, the uninitiated faculty members of the Harvard Psychology Department (Herbert Kelman and Brendan Maher [2]) resent Leary’s charisma and the fact that he is poaching most of their graduate students. The professors-turned-anti-drug-warriors attack Leary’s scientific integrity, his lax research methods, and his guru status among graduate students. While dramatizing the academic coup, Outside Looking In explores how psychedelic drugs have a polarizing effect on all who come near them: the enthusiasts of psilocybin and LSD become increasingly estranged from the “real world” and its norms while those who reject “the psychedelic sacraments” become passionately opposed to them. Fitz attempts to warn Leary about the need for discretion. However, the Harvard professor possesses an unhealthy penchant for publicity and controversy; he also constantly underestimates the forces of repression and the resentment of the non-users.

Outside Looking In dramatizes Leary and Alpert’s quest for internal freedom (the right to alter one’s consciousness) and the search for a haven — a place where the forces of repression cannot monitor and restrict the actions of psychedelic brethren. Alpert eventually finds a rambling Victorian mansion in Millbrook, New York, that is owned by the wealthy Hitchcock family. Peggy Hitchcock, a psychedelic enthusiast and heiress to the Mellon family fortune, introduces Leary and Alpert to her brother Billy, and he quickly agrees to rent the estate to Leary and Alpert for one dollar a year. When Leary and Alpert move into the 64-room Gothic mansion in the fall of 1963, the psychedelic version of Brook Farm is born.

In the fall of 1963, Leary and Alpert quickly transform Millbrook into an experimental community and a social laboratory where researchers can conduct psychological experiments. However, unlike the Harvard Psilocybin Project (HPP), the researchers would no longer be restricted by the educational authorities who were hostile to consciousness expanding drugs. Although Fitz and Joanie’s marriage is still intact when they arrive at Millbrook in the fall of 1963, their participation in various psychological experiments test the limits of their relationship. The first experiment is dubbed the “Bowling Alley Experiment” (it was named after a smaller house on the Millbrook estate with a private bowling alley). This experiment attempts to “break through the sexual jealousy game as a way of deepening the communal bond and [to foster the transition] from individual mind to group mind.” The experiment also incorporated the principle of chance:

[O]nce a week Tim would draw a pair of names from the sombrero he’d brought back from Mexico, and whoever’s names came up would have to spend the next seven days in the meditation-house cum-bowling alley, relieved of all household duties and free to trip and engage in any activity they wanted, sexual or otherwise, without constraint. Two people going deep.

In the first round, Joanie and Fanchon (the wife of another graduate student) are selected. Joanie and Fanchon spend a week harmoniously tripping together. However, during the third drawing Fitz is paired with Lori, a 19-year-old poetess who is mentally unstable. Joanie is worried about the situation, but she does not intervene to stop the psychological experiment. Although the experiment is supposed to enable the participants to transcend jealousy and possessiveness (“the marriage game”), it ends up exacerbating these tendencies. After tripping with Lori for a week, Fitz has a powerful LSD-enhanced bonding experience with her. Although Lori is no longer interested in Fitz when the week is over, he becomes obsessed with regaining her affections. The conflict between Fitz and Joanie highlights Boyle’s interest in exposing the limits of LSD-induced “deconditioning.” Outside Looking In explores how social norms (e.g., “the monogamy game” and “the marriage game”) are far more powerful than the utopians realize. As the novel comes to a close, the psychedelic followers are forced to acknowledge the folly of psychedelic imprinting.

Some readers may question the premise of Outside Looking In — the notion that LSD can functions as a powerful sexual trigger. However, there is some historical evidence for Boyle’s narrative conceit. LSD’s relationship to the sexual responses is a topic that was occasionally researched in the 1960s. Some British psychiatrists even went as far as to use the drug when treating frigidity. [3] Dr. Sidney Cohen, an expert on LSD and a contemporary of Timothy Leary, argued that LSD had the unique power to unlock the latch of “disinhibition.” In the jargon of the early 1960s, “disinhibition” can be read as a code word for the sexual response. Leary also noted the drug’s ability to pry open the Pandora’s box of human sexuality during the early 1960s. In his memoir Flashbacks, Leary reveals that he debated the sexual nature of psychedelic drugs with Aldous Huxley in the early 1960s. The British author of The Doors of Perception was also aware that the drug could be used to stimulate sexual responses, but cautiously urged Leary to be discreet about his discovery: “Of course this is true, Timothy, but we’ve stirred up enough trouble suggesting that drugs can stimulate aesthetic and religious experiences. I strongly urge you not to let the sexual cat out of the bag.” Boyle’s satirical novel, of course, ignores Huxley’s warning and makes LSD-induced sexual bonding a central concern; Outside Looking In explores the proto-counterculture’s fascination with sexual experimentation, but also how LSD-induced sexual bonding use can turn marriages — all intimate relationships — upside down.

Although all does not end well for the characters in Outside Looking In, it would be a mistake to read Boyle’s novel as merely a cautionary tale, or even worse, a revisionist critique of LSD and the nascent counterculture. Although Boyle is certainly concerned with the moral issues that surround psychedelic drugs, Outside Looking In is not the work of a dour anti-drug moralist. Much like Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Blithedale Romance, Boyle’s novel is an affectionate satire of the utopian impulse and psychedelic culture. Boyle’s representation of the LSD experience steers wide of sensationalism (his characters do not try to fly or jump out of five-story windows). Boyle’s novel attempts to describe the drug’s powerful effect on those who ingest it and, most significantly, how the drug functions as a conduit for self-transformation. That said, Outside Looking In also suggests that drug-induced forms of enlightenment also bring repercussions. When the Loneys’ trips are over, they still must pay the rent, raise their teenage son, and attempt to repair their splintered marriage. Outside Looking In offers a rejoinder to the slogans of the 1960s. For many people, Leary’s “Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out” was appealing because it seemed to offer the promise of liberation and transcendence, but the mantra was also short-sighted, ignoring the need to return to reality once the trip was over.

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"MBZ received a direct threat from Iran. It was not delivered through proxies," the source said. @MiddleEastEye
Law & Politics

Tehran “directly” contacted Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed last weekend, threatening the United Arab Emirates in the event of any US attack on Iran, a top-level UAE source told Middle East Eye.

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06-JAN-2020 :: The Assassination (The Escalation of 'Shadow War')
Law & Politics

“This is an aggressive show of force and an outright provocation that could trigger another Middle East war.”

At the beginning of From Russia With Love (the movie not the book), Kronsteenn is summoned to Blofeld’s lair to discuss the plot to steal the super-secret ‘Lektor Decoder’ and kill Bond. 

Kronsteen outlines to Blofeld his play Blofeld [read Trump]: Kronsteen, you are sure this plan is foolproof? 

Kronsteen [read Pompeo]: Yes it is because I have anticipated every possible variation of counter-move.

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Moderna’s chief medical officer has described the company’s products as “hacking the software of life” and permanently altering a person’s genetic code.

Gates’ affinity for Moderna may owe to the fact that Moderna’s co-founder, MIT’s Robert Langer, is a Gates associate whose lab developed the Gates-funded “quantum dot ‘tattoo’” vaccine identification marker that is “visible using a special smartphone camera app and filter” and was described by Science Alert as “a low-risk tracking system.” 

Another Langer-Gates partnership is a “birth control microchip” inserted to the body that releases contraceptives and can be turned on and off wirelessly.

In a 2017 TED Talk, two years after joining Moderna, Zaks spoke at length about how he views mRNA vaccines and their modality, including those he produces at Moderna. 

In a speech entitled “The disease-eradicating potential of gene editing,” Zaks’ description of Moderna’s mRNA products as, making permanent edits to human genes, clashes with often touted claims that the genetic material in mRNA vaccines “degrade” over time and do not permanently alter human genetics like DNA vaccines.

Beginning his talk, Zaks states that Moderna and similar companies “are actually hacking the software of life and that it’s changing the way we think of and treat disease.” 

He describes mRNA as “critical information that determines what a cell will actually do” and then states that, if one could “introduce a line of code or change a line of code” in a person’s genome, that has “profound implications for everything.” 

He then falsely claims that Moderna’s products at the time were proven to “work in people” as the company, prior to Covid-19, was never able to convince the federal government to license its mRNA vaccines for human use due to their lack of effectiveness.

Zaks further described his view of well-known diseases like cancer as being caused by “screwed-up DNA” that can be “fixed” with Moderna mRNA vaccines, which he also refers to in the talk as “information therapy” given that he says Moderna’s vaccines work by altering the “operating systems” of human cells, i.e. their genetic code

The summary of Zaks’ talk encapsulates his view as the following simple question: “If our cells are the hardware and our genetic material the operating system, what if we could change a few lines of code?” — seemingly suggesting that the permanent introduction of changes into the human genome is as simple as troubleshooting or programming a computer or phone application. 

It also says that Zaks considers the future of “personalized medicine” to be “gene-editing vaccines tailored to each patient’s immune system.” 

The Ted Talk recommended after viewing Zaks’ speech on the Ted Talk website notably broaches a key point that Zaks overlooks, namely that gene-editing can “change an entire species – forever.”

Zaks’ statements are noteworthy and concerning for several reasons, including the fact that DARPA — Moderna’s “strategic ally” — is also openly funding research aimed at “reprogramming genes” and “manipulat[ing] genes or control[ling] gene expression to combat viruses and help human bodies withstand infection” caused by Covid-19. 

The DARPA-backed project would use a method that is known to cause severe genetic damage that has actually been shown to aggravate the conditions it was meant to cure.

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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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‘’Zoonotic’’ origin was one that was accelerated in the Laboratory.

There is also a non negligible possibility that #COVID19 was deliberately released

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US Senate Appropriations Committee report "the Chinese government continues to recruit NIH-funded researchers to steal intellectual property, cheat the peer-review system, establish shadow laboratories in China." @TheSeeker268
Law & Politics

US Senate Appropriations Committee report for FY 2021 | Foreign Threats to Research: "the Chinese government continues to recruit NIH-funded researchers to steal intellectual property, cheat the peer-review system, establish shadow laboratories in China."

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“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers.” ― Origin of the #CoronaVirus #COVID19

“There's always more to it. This is what history consists of. It is the sum total of the things they aren't telling us.”

“A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what's going on. ”

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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.”

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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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies


Dollar Index 91.817

Japan Yen 104.39

Swiss Franc 0.9071

Pound 1.3364

Aussie 0.73687

India Rupee 73.62

South Korea Won 1106.49

Brazil Real 5.3322

Egypt Pound 15.6527

South Africa Rand 15.30477

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27 NOV 17 :: Bitcoin "Wow! What a Ride!"
World Currencies

Let me leave you with Hunter S. Thompson, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

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08-JAN-2018 :: The Crypto Avocado Millenial Economy.
World Currencies

The ‘’Zeitgeist’’ of a time is its defining spirit or its mood. Capturing the ‘’zeitgeist’’ of the Now is not an easy thing because we are living in a dizzyingly fluid moment.

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India Has Not Reported 3.4 Million Covid Cases - NDTV @WHO #COVID19 #coronavirus @NDTV
Emerging Markets

PCR tests have a positivity rate that is 2.5 to 3.5 times higher than Antigen tests (for example, in Delhi the positivity rate for PCR tests is 14% while the positivity rate for Antigen tests is 4%). 

For the country as a whole, the true positivity rate is nearly 140% of the officially declared rate (for example, just to be clear, the official positivity rate for all-India is 6.9%, while the true positivity rate is 9.6% i.e. 9.6% is 139% of 6.9%).

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War not over, says Ethiopia's Tigrayan forces leader
Law & Politics

“I’m close to Mekelle in Tigray fighting the invaders,” Debretsion Gebremichael told Reuters in a text message, which the government dismissed as a deluded claim.

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Ethiopia’s Problems Will Not End with a Military Victory @alyverjee
Law & Politics

However, even if Abiy’s military objectives are quickly achieved, experiences of warfare in northern Ethiopia dating back a century suggest that it is much easier to capture territory than it is to hold it. 

Further, the TPLF’s historic capacity to wage guerrilla warfare from the rural mountains of Tigray may not be definitively eroded by its losses in conventional warfare.

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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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The men kicked down the door well before dawn. They shoved their way into the home of the Burundian refugee and put him in handcuffs, while asking why his wife was standing there crying. @AP.

Within minutes, they were gone. That day in March was the last time she saw her husband, the woman told The Associated Press. 

He became one of at least 18 Burundian refugees and asylum seekers who have forcibly disappeared from refugee camps in Tanzania over roughly the past year, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch.

Many were tortured at a police station in Kibondo, Tanzania, the report says. Seven remain missing. Three were released after several weeks. 

Eight were handed over to authorities in Burundi and imprisoned “in abysmal conditions” without due process, indicating collaboration with Tanzania’s police and intelligence services, the report says, highlighting both the pressure on refugees to go home and alleged continuing repression under Burundi’s new president.

Many of the more than 150,000 refugees in Tanzania fled deadly political turmoil in 2015 when Burundi was accused of cracking down on protests over late President Pierre Nkurunziza’s ultimately successful bid for another term. 

The U.N. human rights office reported more than 300 extrajudicial killings and was kicked out of the country. Burundi’s government has denied it targets its people.

Now, from prison, some of the recently abducted refugees describe being accused of involvement with unnamed armed groups and of seeking to cause trouble, with few details. 

In some cases, the refugees were told the police and intelligence officials had received information about them from Burundian authorities.

The refugees said Tanzanian police hung them from the ceiling by their handcuffs, “gave them electric shocks, rubbed their faces and genitals with chili and beat and whipped them,” the report says.

“We screamed as if we were crucified,” one refugee told the rights group, and said police demanded the equivalent of $430, money he didn’t have

When given the choice to remain detained or be turned over to Burundian authorities, he chose to return.

“It had never been a problem of this seriousness,” Human Rights Watch Africa’s director, Mausi Segun, said in an interview. 

“We don’t know what the trigger was” but the abductions began to occur around the time that Burundi’s latest election campaigns were heating up late last year, she said.

It is not clear whether the disappearances have continued since the election in May, she added.

The eight refugees who agreed to return to Burundi “chose to go back because the pain was incredible” from the torture they received and because they couldn’t afford the fees being extorted from them, Segun said.

From prison, she said, some described having their faces covered and their hands bound and being driven to the border, then taken to Bujumbura and questioned again by national intelligence authorities.

''They were told they would be freed, but nothing happened,” Segun said.

The woman in Tanzania who described her husband’s disappearance told the AP she was threatened by local police with arrest when she tried to learn his fate. 

Then she went to the office of the U.N. refugee agency and was told they were monitoring the case.

Eventually, after getting nowhere, “I decided to no longer follow the case because I didn’t want my children to be orphans,” she said. “Until now, I don’t know where he is.”

The U.N. refugee agency told Human Rights Watch it has repeatedly expressed concern to Tanzanian authorities over the disappearances, and that the government said a “high-level investigation was underway.” 

The U.N. agency said it has heard no results.

It’s not clear whether Tanzania’s government at the highest levels is aware of what’s happening, Segun said

“There has been no response from the Tanzanians, which is not surprising.” The rights group in the past has documented pressure by Tanzanian authorities on refugees to go home.

Authorities in Burundi also have not responded to the allegations.

New President Evariste Ndayishimiye has urged the refugees in Tanzania to return. But Segun said his administration looks “more or less the same” as that of the late President Pierre Nkurunziza.

“The same people in office during those horrible years in Burundi remain in office,” Segun said, in part echoing the assessments of other human rights groups in recent months.

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In this Saturday, May 23, 2015 file photo, refugees who fled Burundi's violence and political tension arrive in Kigoma, Tanzania, after making the journey on Lake Tanganyika.

At least 18 Burundian refugees and asylum seekers have been forcibly disappeared from refugee camps in Tanzania over roughly the past year, with many being tortured at a police station in Tanzania and seven remain missing, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

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Naira Hits Four-Year Low as Nigeria Central Bank Adjusts Rate @economics

Nigeria’s central bank weakened the naira for the third time this year as the regulator struggles to stem demand for dollars amid lower than anticipated foreign-currency inflows.

The Abuja-based central bank adjusted the rate licensed bureau de change operators can sell the local currency to 392 naira per dollar from 386 naira previously, it said in a circular to dealers on Monday. 

Traders will purchase the U.S. currency at 390 naira from 384 naira, it said, adding that international money transfers will be exchanged at the banks at 388 naira per dollar from 382 naira.

The devaluation follows two others in March and July this year as Africa’s largest oil producer continues to contend with lower than budgeted crude prices along with the economic turmoil that followed the global coronavirus pandemic.

Nigeria has seen a significant drop in foreign exchange inflows, with crude exports accounting for more that 90% of the country’s foreign-exchange earnings.

“Oil prices didn’t recover strongly as many had anticipated with the reopening of the economies,” Mosope Arubayi, chief economist at Lagos-based Vetiva Capital Management Ltd., said by phone. 

The depreciation “basically signifies some pressure on CBN right now,” she said.

The low greenback liquidity at the official exchange window, where the central bank maintains a largely inflexible rate, has increased demand in the parallel market where it is freely determined.

The naira traded at 500 versus the dollar on Monday, its lowest since Feb. 22, 2017, according to abokifx.com, a website that collates parallel market data. 

The rate is 22% weaker than the current official rate of 388.54 per dollar.

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Extreme heat is a threat to lives in Africa, but it’s not being monitored @TC_Africa @FrediOtto @ecioxford

Extreme heat is a serious hazard to people’s health. It affects the cardiovascular system and is particularly dangerous for the elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions.

Recent research has found that since the 1950s, extreme heat has become more frequent and severe, and lasted longer, in nearly all regions of the world. 

The biggest increases have been seen in the Middle East, South America and parts of Africa.

Because societies in different parts of the world have adapted to varying average temperatures, there’s no universal definition of what temperature range qualifies as extreme. 

For instance, in the UK temperatures above 25⁰C are rare whereas the Indian Meteorological Service only considers temperatures above 40⁰C as hot.

But almost everywhere thresholds are now more frequently exceeded and for more days at a time.

More worrying is that climate projections show that such heatwaves over the African continent will become hotter and more dangerous, even if global warming is kept below 1.5°C. 

Particularly strong increases in extreme heat are foreseen over Eastern and Southern Africa.

Bearing in mind changes in populations, the number of people exposed to dangerous heat in African cities is expected to increase at least 20-fold by the end of the century. 

Yet extreme heatwaves aren’t systematically monitored in many countries in the sub-Saharan Africa region.

As we explain in a recent paper, this means the effects of extreme heat are under-reported – putting even more people in harm’s way.

In most countries in sub-Saharan Africa there are no early warnings and no heat action plans. 

Unnecessary, premature deaths aren’t counted. And there are very few adaptation efforts for the fastest growing hazard in a changing climate.

There’s a near-complete absence of reported heatwave events over sub-Saharan Africa in disaster databases. 

The largest of these databases, EM-DAT, lists technological and environmental disasters across the world. It records events like earthquakes and oil spills and their impact on lives, livelihoods and economies.

EM-DAT lists only two heatwaves in sub-Saharan Africa since 1900. These have led to 71 recorded premature deaths. By contrast, 83 heatwaves were recorded in Europe over the last 40 years alone. 

Other inventories of weather-related disasters contain similarly stark discrepancies.

Heatwaves in Africa are not reported by governments, weather services or public health agencies, though they are obviously happening. 

Exposure and vulnerability to extreme weather is also more pronounced in many sub-Saharan African countries when compared with European countries. This is mainly due to higher poverty levels, informal settlements and the need for outdoor work.

Hence, there’s likely to be an even larger number of premature deaths from severe heat. But they have never been registered, so the number is unknown.

A lack of reporting on deaths associated with heatwaves means there’s little awareness that extreme heat can be deadly. I

t was only after the 2003 European heatwave killed more than 70,000 people that countries and cities began to plan for such times.

The Indian city of Ahmedabad implemented a heatwave plan after an extremely hot and deadly pre-monsoon season in 2010. 

This resulted in the country reporting fewer deaths after an even more intense heatwave in 2015.

This type of planning is impossible if heatwaves aren’t recorded.

Since heatwave mortality is rarely reported in sub-Saharan Africa, we don’t know the precise temperature thresholds that result in heat-related mortality. Yet this information is crucial for local communities to adapt.

In Ahmedabad, for example, the average daily maximum temperatures are usually around 40°C in April and May. 

In Western Europe such temperatures would constitute a severe heatwave. 

The consequences would be deadly if the temperatures remained at this level for several consecutive days.

One reason for this uneven reporting of extreme heat lies in which entities report the impact of extreme weather. 

In most developed countries, national governments provide numbers about affected people, mortality rates and even economic losses for extreme weather events. 

But for many lower-income countries, these reports are provided by different NGOs as an unsystematic by-product of their disaster relief work.

Reporting standards differ depending on the NGO and usually have little or no connection to meteorological services. There’s no central place that records the nature of the event and its impact.

Another reason heatwaves aren’t reported could be that they might occur in combination with droughts. They can often lead to food insecurity and humanitarian crises. 

So most observations and response mechanisms developed by NGOs and governments are tailored to the adverse outcomes of drought.

In our paper we identified several key areas where improvements can occur quickly.

First, early warning systems and heat action plans can be beneficial. At first they might have to be based on information from other countries with similar climates. 

More analysis of historical periods of extreme heat in sub-Saharan Africa from a purely meteorological standpoint can help to build a useful definition of heatwaves for the region and improve warnings.

Second, collaborations between local researchers, hospitals and epidemiologists can identify direct health impacts of extreme heat. There have been successful pilot projects in Ghana and The Gambia.

Heatwaves are killers. But relatively simple measures such as opening public buildings to provide cool rooms, distributing free drinking water, informing people about the dangers of heat and early warning can reduce the danger dramatically.

Combining data with local expertise, the effects of heatwaves can be understood and future risks minimised even though the hazard itself is increasing.

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Zimbabwe $1.25 Billion Plan Sees Cannabis as Biggest Cash Crop @markets H/T @FundiMuigai

Zimbabwe sees export earnings from cannabis outstripping those of tobacco by almost three times after last year legalizing the cultivation of the plant for medicinal use.

The government has issued 44 licenses since September when it announced rules for growing cannabis, and sales are forecast to reach $1.25 billion in 2021, Treasury spokesman Clive Mphambela said by phone Monday. 

Thirty producers “are ready and some were doing test production,” Mphambela said. He declined to comment on stocks of cannabis available for export.

Tobacco is the southern African nation’s biggest agricultural export and earned $444 million from the 2020 marketing season that closed in August, according to the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board.

John Robertson, an independent economist based in Harare, said the projections were ambitious. “It’s a massive over-estimate and ignores that cannabis is grown in many markets outside of Zimbabwe,” he said by phone.

“It’s sold in grams, not in kilograms or tons, so there will be disappointment,” Robertson said. “The only enthusiasm will be from producers, but massive supply globally will depress prices.”

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Kenya Shilling Set for Longest Losing Streak Ever on Virus Hit @markets
World Currencies

Kenya’s shilling is on track for its longest losing streak on record, capping five months of declines, as the coronavirus pandemic curtails earnings from tourism and cut-flower exports.

The hospitality industry, Kenya’s biggest foreign-currency earner after remittances and farm produce, is forecast to contract 39% this year, according to the Central Bank of Kenya. 

Production of cut flowers dropped 19% in the first nine months of the year, while coffee output slumped 31%. 

Kenya is the biggest supplier of flowers to Europe.

The shilling declined for a 13th straight day on Monday, the longest run since at least 1988, when Bloomberg started compiling the data. 

It has weakened every month since June, taking losses this year to 9%.

“There is a lot of uncertainty globally and people prefer holding dollars and other hard currencies,” said Mathew Kabeere, a trading Specialist at EGM Securities in Nairobi. 

Measures to contain the spread of the virus slowed inflows of dollars, adding to pressure on the shilling, he said.

The shilling’s weakness may help Kenya’s economy recover from the pandemic, according to the World Bank. 

Gross domestic product contracted 5.7% in the second quarter, but the nation’s Treasury forecasts 0.6% growth for the full year, and a rebound of 6.4% in 2021.

“Depreciation like this can be quite constructive and helpful in terms of supporting the international competitiveness of domestic production,” said Alex Sienaert, a senior economist at the World Bank’s office in Nairobi.

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

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