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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Wednesday 16th of December 2020

Jupiter and Saturn are set to create a "Christmas star" with a dramatic close encounter that has not been seen from Earth in nearly 800 years. @SkyNews

The solar system's two largest planets will appear to merge, creating a bright point in the sky on 21 December.

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In my kitchen drinking an espresso shot in one go and then dramatically slamming it down on my counter like I’m at a bar and saying out loud “hit me again” @protosemite

In my kitchen drinking an espresso shot in one go and then dramatically slamming it down on my counter like I’m at a bar and saying out loud “hit me again” before I go to my coffee machine and stand there awkwardly for 1 minute while it makes another

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Viruses infect bodies. Ideas infect minds. @Tomaspueyo


The #coronavirus infected our societies because our social immune system against bad ideas is weak. 


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My Brexit hell @RobDotHutton

What was Brexit like? America’s declaration of independence? A man leaving a golf club but demanding to still be allowed into the bar? 

Over the years, I went through a few analogies, but the one that persisted was of a married man who has for years enjoyed casually flirting with a work colleague. 

One evening he makes his traditional half-hearted pass, and instead of rolling her eyes, she replies: “Go on, then”. 

A month later, he’s living out of his car and negotiating through lawyers to see his children one weekend a month, and he can’t really tell you how it happened.

On the inside, covering every tiny move in the story, it was mainly exhausting. 

I escaped Long Covid in 2020, but I may have Long Brexit. Just thinking about the endless days and nights covering this vote or those talks makes me feel ill, overwhelmed by a mix of exhaustion and anxiety.

Mainly, it was stupid. I don’t so much mean the vote to leave as everything that followed. Unutterably, unfathomably, unbelievably stupid.

Although it coincided with, and possibly depended on, a separate episode of Labour madness, Brexit was fundamentally a Tory spasm, a mid-life crisis for a party that seemed to have decided it was tired of being sensible.

There are so many stupid moments, far too many of them to fit into a single article or even magazine. I really can’t pick a favourite, but as an exemplar stupid, let’s take the Malthouse Compromise.

Who can face going into the details again? All you need to know is that for a few days in 2019, we all worked late into the night writing about negotiations that the Conservative Party was conducting with itself to solve the Irish Border problem. 

The result was the Malthouse Compromise, and they were all so pleased with it. They presented it to the press – in the middle of the night, of course – with all the excitement of a three-year-old bringing home an iced biscuit from preschool: Look, Mummy, we’ve solved the Irish border!

Had they, though? Well, the compromise rested on what The Guardian carefully called “as yet unknown technology”. So the answer, it rapidly became clear, was “not as such”.

But that didn’t matter, explained actual members of parliament, adults who had stood for election and somehow won. 

The important point was that the Conservative Party was in agreement. Brexit could now go forward. 

And when the people they were supposed to be negotiating with, the European Union, said that they needed something slightly more concrete than crayon drawings of imaginary sky computers, these same members of parliament, some of them people who had been in the Cabinet, the actual Cabinet, told us that the EU was being unreasonable.

It was all like that: people too lazy to do the reading explaining to you that something or other wasn’t beyond the wit of man, although it was clearly beyond the wit of this specific man. How hard could it be, we would be asked by someone for whom it was obviously much too hard.

Not only could they not agree what kind of Brexit they wanted, they couldn’t even agree on the terms of the question. Would making it harder to trade with the EU damage the economy, as most people agreed, or would it in fact boost growth, as this one internet site that someone had sent them a link to claimed?

For many Tories, being Eurosceptic was just one of those things you had to say to get selected

With visible facts and geography stacked against them, the Tories over time retreated into the invisible realm. 

What mattered was belief, faith in Brexit. It wasn’t enough to believe that Brexit should happen because people had voted for it, Conservatives were now required to believe that it was a good idea in its own terms. 

And not just Conservatives: everyone in public life – civil servants, judges, journalists – was interrogated on their allegiance to the One True Brexit (Whatever It Turns Out To Be). 

People who talked too loudly about facts on the ground were denounced on newspaper front pages, and sent death threats.

The problem was, they had never meant to win, any more than the man heating a Pot Noodle in his Vauxhall Zafira meant to cheat on his wife. 

For some of them it was a way to get back at David Cameron, for others it was a way to position themselves to succeed him. 

For many Tories, being Eurosceptic was just one of those things you had to say to get selected, like clicking “I agree” on the legal bit when you install an app. I mean, no one holds you to that stuff, right?

Lately, the tone has changed a little. The government still refuses to talk about the coming economic damage, but it’s tacitly accepted that it’s real. 

It is hard to take the current Brexit battle seriously, after a year in which Covid has exposed the pointlessness of trying to pretend that we don’t live in a complex, connected world, and indeed revealed some of the benefits of the modern world that so many Tories spend so much time denouncing.

Perhaps we can get back on our feet, find a flat, stop blaming our ex-wife for turning the kids against us, accept that our plan to date supermodels was unrealistic and that tight jeans don’t flatter us, and work out our new place in the world. A few years of boring wouldn’t be as bad as all that.

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#Covid19 December 15: + 625,482 cases in 24 hours, i.e. 73,476,636 in total + 14,000 deaths in 24 hours, i.e. 1,636,083 in total @CovidTracker_fr

Data from #Covid19 in the world on December 15: + 625,482 cases in 24 hours, i.e. 73,476,636 in total + 14,000 deaths in 24 hours, i.e. 1,636,083 in total

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Ibn Khaldun sought to explain the intrinsic relationship between political leadership and the management of pandemics in the pre-colonial period in his book Muqaddimah
Law & Politics

Historically, such pandemics had the capacity to overtake “the dynasties at the time of their senility, when they had reached the limit of their duration” and, in the process, challenged their “power and curtailed their [rulers’] influence...”

Rulers who are only concerned with the well-being of their “inner circle and their parties” are an incurable “disease”.

States with such rulers can get “seized by senility and the chronic disease from which [they] can hardly ever rid [themselves], for which [they] can find no cure”

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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
Law & Politics

“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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‘’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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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.2206

Dollar Index 90.13

Japan Yen 103.32

Swiss Franc 0.8826

Pound 1.3495

Aussie 0.7575

India Rupee 73.528

South Korea Won 1090.40

Brazil Real 5.0825

Egypt Pound 15.7161

South Africa Rand 14.84

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If it can breakout at $1915, the next leg up sees $1980 then $2200 new highs @AdamMancini4

$GOLD Big Picture View: After a $650 rally from March-August, Gold spent the past few months in corrective mode building energy for a big move

So far, this correction has formed a textbook bull flag. If it can breakout at $1915, the next leg up sees $1980 then $2200 new highs

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CoViD19-ΛFЯICΛ: Confirmed: 2 391 084 (+ 11857) Actives: 305 684 (+ 176) @NCoVAfrica

Confirmed: 2 391 084 (+ 11857)

Actives: 305 684 (+ 176)

Deaths: 56 668 (+ 331)

Recoveries:  2 027 102 (+ 11350)

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Turning To Africa

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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Turning To Africa Spinning Top

Democracy from Tanzania to Zimbabwe to Cameroon has been shredded.

We are getting closer and closer to the Virilian Tipping Point

“The revolutionary contingent attains its ideal form not in the place of production, but in the street''

Political leadership in most cases completely gerontocratic will use violence to cling onto Power but any Early Warning System would be warning a Tsunami is coming

10 NOV 14 : African youth demographic {many characterise this as a 'demographic dividend"} - which for Beautiful Blaise turned into a demographic terminator

Martin Aglo, a law student from Benin, told Reuters: “After the Arab Spring, this is the Black Spring”.We need to ask ourselves; how many people can incumbent shoot stone cold dead in such a situation – 100, 1,000, 10,000?

This is another point: there is a threshold beyond which the incumbent can’t go. Where that threshold lies will be discovered in the throes of the event.

The Event is no longer over the Horizon.

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Uganda Seeks to Block YouTube Accounts Linked to Pop Star @bpolitics

Uganda asked Google to block at least 14 YouTube accounts linked to the country’s main challenger in next month’s elections for “sensationalist” broadcasts.

Holders of these accounts are operating illegally and should be suspended until they obtain licenses and adhere to broadcasting standards, Abudu Sallam Waiswa, the head of legal affairs at the Uganda Communications Commission, said by phone Tuesday.

The regulator is seeking to enforce the law and it’s just “a coincidence” that the affected accounts are linked to pop star Bobi Wine, Waiswa said

Authorities have blamed the broadcasts for inciting deadly protests last month sparked by the arrest of Wine for allegedly breaching Covid-related restrictions by holding mass rallies.

Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, has repeatedly criticized long-time President Yoweri Museveni for failing to tackle corruption and unemployment, and the government’s human rights record. 

He has been arrested several times in the last two years on various charges including treason.

Museveni, 76, who took power after a five-year guerrilla war, became eligible to seek re-election after lawmakers, most of whom are his supporters, abolished the upper age limit of 75 for a presidential candidate.

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A Country on the Brink Ethiopia Sinks Deeper into Sectarian Conflict @derspiegel

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed promised democracy and a new beginning for his country -- and received the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for his initial efforts. 

It has been all downhill from there, however, and he is increasingly turning to authoritarian methods.

On this sunny morning, Falma wanted to speak about hate. About the anger and the rage that has destroyed his city and threatens to tear the country apart. 

He also wanted to talk about the hope that he and many others had felt when a young prime minister, hardly into his 40s, came into office – and of the disappointment that followed. 

But Falma isn't supposed to talk, not with anybody – and particularly, it would seem, not with journalists.

We had set up a meeting with him in Shashemene, a town located about five hours south of the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, to discuss his country and what the future might hold. 

Falma is not his real name. He is one of the leaders of the Qeerroo in Shashemene, a group of young activists who are demanding more autonomy for Oromia, Ethiopia's largest region. 

Qeerroo is one of a several organizations in the country that are fighting for more power and self-determination for their ethnicity. Some with more radical means and some with less. 

It is a situation that is not to the liking of the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, which is currently trying to bring an end to a war against the rebels from the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and is concerned about losing control. 

That's why people like Falma are currently being treated as enemies of the state.

He had warned us of the police over the phone. Just recently, he said, a leading member of his group had been arrested by the authorities. 

Security, he added, is a huge problem, and asked us to tell him where we were just 10 minutes before the meeting so he could join us.

Just a few minutes before the meeting, we receive a call from the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority (EBA), which is responsible for granting accreditation to foreign journalists. It also has the power to prohibit reporting and can dictate what parts of the country reporters are allowed to visit and what regions are off limits. 

The northern region of Tigray remains closed, while restrictions are in place for the rest of the country. 

The head of the agency himself is on the phone, and he doesn't sound happy. He says he knows that we are currently in Shashemene. "Come back to Addis immediately." It wasn't a request, it was an order.

It isn't totally clear how the head of the EBA knows so precisely where a German reporter, a photographer, a driver and an interpreter are currently located. 

Plus, we have permission from the EBA to be in the region, we're in possession of all the necessary permits and we even obtained permission from the regional government. 

The interpreter looks concerned. Perhaps our telephones are being monitored, or maybe the agency has informants. Who knows?

When Falma parks his car on the side of the road a few minutes later and approaches us, he first scans his surroundings. 

A boyish-looking man with the deep voice of an adult, Falma is wearing a white polo shirt. 

He greets us through the driver's-side window. Immediately afterward, a text message appears on my phone. Again, it's the head of the broadcasting authority. He writes: "Come to Addis Ababa today. Immediately! Report to our office. Period!"

There is only one conclusion for us to draw: The EBA apparently knows who we are meeting with right at this moment.

Falma looks around, bids a hasty farewell and hurries back to his car.

On the phone later, he says: "Everyone is afraid. There have been a lot of arrests and the security forces have also been ordered to fire on people who are trying to protest." That is why, he says, there are no longer any protests in the area.

A Conflict over Lost Influence

Arrests, protests, firing orders: Such are the realities in the country governed by the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Abiy Ahmed

A trip across Ethiopia in these extremely uncertain times is to encounter omnipresent fear and paranoia. Uneasiness is everywhere, from the bottom all the way to the top. 

The government is afraid of the disintegration of a fragile country while activists, the opposition and rebels are afraid of being persecuted and, in the worst case, killed by the government, by security forces or by other ethnic groups. Others are afraid of civil war.

The danger of an escalation rose dramatically in early November, when units belonging to the Tigray People's Liberation Front apparently attacked an Ethiopian military base in the north. 

Abiy's government sent ground troops to Tigray, while warplanes bombed regional government positions.

It is a war being waged far away from the eyes of the global public. Reporters aren't allowed to travel into the conflict regions and telephone service was largely suspended and has only been partly reactivated in recent days. The internet remains shut down. 

For a long time, not even the United Nations was allowed to deliver aid to Tigray. Last Tuesday, Abiy's government admitted to having fired on a UN team that had been trying to advance into a restricted region.

The conflict is primarily one of lost influence. For decades, the Tigray held power in the capital despite only making up around 6 percent of the population. 

The country's economy and prosperity grew under their leadership, but freedoms were curtailed and corruption blossomed. Tigrayans had better opportunities than others to benefit from the upswing.

After taking over as prime minister, Abiy Ahmed removed all the old powerful Tigrayan figures from key positions. 

Since then, those who were removed have been trying to disrupt Ahmed's government at every chance they get. 

In September, the regional government in Tigray held elections against the will of the central government, an additional step toward complete escalation.

In late November, Abiy announced that the regional capital of Mekelle had been brought under control, but it is doubtful whether that means the conflict is now over. 

The leadership of the TPLF is currently on the run, but their units still have plenty of fighters at their disposal – and likely heavy artillery and rockets as well. 

Possibly more than 1,000 people were killed in the fighting, including, presumably, a considerable number of civilians. 

Around 50,000 people have thus far fled across the border into neighboring Sudan. 

It is reasonable to assume that the TPLF will now ensnarl the government in a guerilla war, and according to intermittent reports, incidents of heavy fighting continue.

The conflict in northern Ethiopia shows just how fragile the country is. In Shashemene, too, which is located far away from the northern region of Tigray, the wounds of ethnic tension lay open, visible to all. 

A few hundred meters up the road stands an entire row of burned-out buildings -- blackened by soot, windows shattered and shutters melted into clumps. 

They stand as silent witnesses to a vast failure. The charred remains of cars and buses still litter the roadsides, rusty brown like the hard earth of southern Ethiopia.

A Promising Beginning

A wave of protests gripped the region of Oromia in late June, after the singer Hachalu Hundessa was gunned down in Addis Ababa. 

The songs of Hundessa became the soundtrack of the Oromo protest movement, which began in 2014 and ultimately brought Abiy to power in 2018. 

Thousands poured into the streets after his murder. Many Oromo still believe that Abiy's government is behind the killing.

More than 160 people died during the summer protests, some of them brutally murdered by the mob, others gunned down by the security forces. 

Homes, factories, shops, hotels, government offices and cars went up in flames. 

The government was worried that the riots could spread, and it shut down the internet for most of the country. More than 10,000 people fled the violence.

The unrest was a far cry from the promising start to Abiy's tenure. He had a dream. A vision of nurturing a pan-Ethiopian nationalism to bind the country and its nine regions closer together, thus putting an end to the cycle of tensions that have repeatedly flared up among the country's more than 80 ethnicities. 

He envisaged a strong country that would provide a democratic home to people of all backgrounds. It was a fine dream.

Abiy promised to loosen the central government's iron grip. Shortly after he was named prime minister, he released political prisoners, allowed opposition leaders to return from exile and proclaimed the unity and the harmony of all religions. 

At the same time, his government returned a border town claimed by neighboring Eritrea in a bid to reduce foreign policy tensions as well. 

At an ensuing Ethiopian-Eritrean summit, the two countries finally agreed on a peace deal after 20 years of conflict. Partly as a result, Abiy was chosen last year to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

At the ceremony in Oslo, he said: "Our young men and women are crying out for social and economic justice. (…) The youth insist on good governance based on accountability and transparency. If we deny our youth justice, they will reject peace." Today, it no longer sounds like a message of hope, but like a dark prophecy.

His attempts to foster unity in the country didn't go well for long. In the Oromia region, despite early optimism among the population there due to Abiy's local roots, a strong opposition developed against the prime minister. 

In the north, meanwhile, the independence movement grew in strength while to the southwest, the Sidama ethnic group demanded autonomy. It looked as though the country was breaking up into small islands.

Now, Abiy's most bitter opponents include the Oromo in southern and central Ethiopia along with the Tigray in the north. 

They see his vision of a united Ethiopia primarily as an extension of central state power and an attempt at assimilation. Both groups are demanding more autonomy.

An African Yugoslavia?

For quite some time, Abiy didn't seem to have a plan for dealing with the opposition to his policies. Ultimately, though, he decided to adopt the means relied on by the old regime, which he used to serve – including as head of the agency responsible for surveillance of telecommunications. 

Since then, the surveillance and repression of critics has steadily increased, and journalists have been silenced and arrested. 

In Oromia, arrests and killings by security personnel have likewise increased. Abiy is now seeking to regain control through the use of violence – out of fear that the country may otherwise fall apart.

Ethiopia has a long and sometimes bloody history of tensions between its many ethnic and religious groups. In the 1930s, Italian orientalist Carlo Conti Rossini called the country a museum of peoples. 

He meant it in a positive sense, praising the country's diversity. But the present seems more consistent with the assessment of another man: 

The country, said the Ethiopian Marxist Wallelign Mekonnen in the late 1960s, is more of a prison of peoples. A nation state that most ethnic groups submit to. 

Ethiopia has remained somewhere between a museum and a prison to the present day.

There were around 1.8 million internally displaced persons even before the conflict in Tigray. Fighting between the Oromo and Somali ethnicities from 2016 to 2019 alone was responsible for 1.2 million people fleeing their villages. 

The Somali have also been involved in intermittent fighting with the Afar as well. Meanwhile, in the Benishangul-Gumuz region in the west, ethnic tensions have increasingly erupted into armed fighting.

And in Oromia, the region that is home to the largest population group, resistance has grown more and more fierce. 

Rebel groups are increasingly arming themselves and fighting against government troops, but they have also been responsible for killing civilians belonging to the Amhara, the country's second largest ethnicity, which ruled the country for centuries. 

In the Oromo regions of Wollega and Guji, brutal shadow wars are being fought. There are dozens of fighting fronts in Ethiopia, and observers are concerned that the country could transform into an African Yugoslavia – into a country that tears itself apart in a bloody civil war.

The war in Tigray could light the fuse for a larger conflagration, in part because it will occupy elements of the Ethiopian army for a long time to come. 

Mostly, though, because the central government is increasingly being seen by its critics and opponents as the aggressor. Opposition-linked journalists in the capital are already speaking of the development of a new dictatorship.

Members of the Tigray report over the phone of arbitrary arrests, dispossessions, work bans and firings. 

Even at Ethiopian Airlines, one of the country's flagship companies, employees with Tigrayan roots are being dismissed. 

In Somalia, where Ethiopians represent an important contingent of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Tigray officers are likewise being removed.

An Iron Fist

The preliminary victory over the provincial government in Tigray could ultimately prove hazardous for Abiy Ahmed. Many regions have long had a deeply antagonistic relationship with the Tigray, who were heavy handed during their decades in power. 

Now, though, because the Tigray are fighting against the increasingly hated government in Addis Ababa, not a few ethnicities have begun seeing the Tigray as the enemy of their enemy. 

As a possible friend. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's power is partly dependent on whether the mutually hostile groups can form an alliance against him and overthrow his government. Or whether his army will wear down in a multi-front conflict.

Falma, the activist from Oromia, doesn't necessarily think that is a bad thing. "The war is a gift from God," he says over the phone. "The troops should go ahead and kill themselves, Abiy's troops and the Tigrayans." Both, he says, are enemies of the Oromo. "They should all die."

In Shashemene, after our failed meeting with Falma, we begin our return journey to Addis Ababa. But first, we head briefly south, where our hotel is. An hour after the first call, the telephone rings again. 

This time, it's not the broadcasting authority but the spokesperson from the Oromia government. He says he has already informed the police and security personnel. 

If we stay even just a minute longer, he continues, we will be arrested. He says he is no longer able to guarantee our safety and that something could happen to us on the return journey.

The next morning, in front of the office belonging to the head of the media authority, it becomes clear that our communications are under surveillance. 

And then, before we can even carry out even a single interview, we are officially expelled from the country – a country in which a Nobel Peace Prize laureate is trying to hold together his fragile state as the rulers before him once did: with an iron fist. 

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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 fugitive leader of Ethiopia’s defiant Tigray region on Monday called on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to “stop the madness” and withdraw troops

The fight is about self-determination of the region of around 6 million people, the Tigray leader said, and it “will continue until the invaders are out.” 

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.@Facebook finds French and Russian trolls sparring in Africa @FinancialTimes

Facebook has stopped a small-scale online disinformation campaign in African countries that it linked to the French military, marking the first time it has found such operations associated with a Western government

The social media company said it culled more than 100 Facebook and Instagram pages and accounts, which had less than 7,000 followers. 

The operation, which has been ongoing since 2018, used fake profiles, accounts and photos including AI-generated pictures designed to look like locals in French-speaking African countries, the main target of its commentary, according to Facebook. 

Facebook said the operation, which it linked to “individuals associated with the French military”, made supportive posts about that country’s military, and about themes such as France’s policies in francophone Africa, for example. 

“This is, I believe, the first time we have announced a network that is linked to individuals associated with a Western government or military operation,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy. 

[The campaign was a] departure from the French Government’s stated principles on how democracies must tackle ‘information manipulation’

The French defence ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The operation was also involved in criticising Russia’s involvement in the Central African Republic, and making claims about Russian interference in the country’s election later this month.

Uniquely, it duelled with a separate covert propaganda campaign led by Russia in the region, in what Facebook said was the first example in its history of takedowns of two foreign influence campaigns actively engaged with each other. 

“Each side trolled the other with insulting videos and memes; each side made false accusations against the other; each side used doctored evidence to support their accusations,” Graphika, a research group, and the Stanford Internet Observatory said in a joint report about the activity. 

France has more than 5,000 troops fighting jihadis in the Sahel region including in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. 

Anti-French protests have also cropped up across the region, with some politicians attacking the country’s presence as “neo-colonial”.

The French actions predated the Russian activity, some of which was exposed last year and included the creation of fake news outlets.

Facebook attributed the Russian activity to the Internet Research Agency, the ‘troll farm’ which attempted to influence the 2016 US presidential election, as well as Russian businessman Evgeny Prigozhin.

Graphika, which also identified at least two YouTube channels and 20 Twitter accounts linked to the same French campaign, noted that the move was a “departure from the French Government’s stated principles on how democracies must tackle “information manipulation”.

Twitter said it had “taken action on a small number of Twitter accounts based on close co-ordination with our peers” but added: “We do not have country-specific information to share at this time and our investigations are ongoing.”

YouTube did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Separately on Tuesday, Facebook said it removed a second Russian campaign targeting Libya, Sudan and Syria, linked to individuals associated with the Internet Research Agency.

Mr Prigozhin, the caterer known as “Putin’s chef” who owns the IRA, in a statement said Facebook was working “exclusively to advance the interests of American oligarchy and . . . the US”.

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28 OCT 19 :: From Russia with Love

But, he said, Russia was going to be a different kind of superpower, one that does not engage in “pressure, in- timidation and blackmail” to “exploit” sovereign African governments.

“Our African agenda is positive and future-oriented. We do not ally with someone against someone else, and we strongly oppose any geopolitical games involving Africa.”

In Moscow’s offer for Africa are mercenaries, military equipment, mining investments, nuclear power plants, and railway connections.

“Russia regards Africa as an important and active participant in the emerging polycentric archi- tecture of the world order and an ally in protecting international law against attempts to undermine it,” said Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov back in November 2018.

Recently we have seen Russian interventions in the Central African Republic (CAR.

In July this year, a three-minute animated video appeared on YouTube. Called Lionbear, the cartoon was aimed at children and told the story of a brave but beleaguered Central African lion, who was fighting a losing battle against a pack of hungry hyenas. 

Luckily the lion had a friend who came to the rescue — the strong Russian bear. The bear fights off the hyenas brings peace to the land and everyone lives happily ever after.

The video was produced by Lobaye Invest, a Russian mining company with links to the Wagner Group. 

Lobaye runs a radio station in the CAR, and orga- nised a Miss CAR pageant. But, as a CNN investigation reported this year, Lobaye also funds the 250 Russian mercenaries who are stationed in the country.

“The dividend for Lobaye Invest: generous concessions to explore for diamonds and gold in a country rich in mineral wealth,” it reported. The Russian mercenaries are officially there to train the CAR’s national army.

But their activities in the country are shrouded in secrecy, and when three Russian journalists traveled there to investigate they were murdered.[Mail and Guardian Simon Allison] 

I would argue Putin’s timing is exquisite and optimal and his Model has an exponential ROI. Russia’s clout on African soil runs on many tracks, and its expansion is geared primarily towards hybrid activities. 

In Moscow’s offer for Africa are mercenaries, military equipment, mining investments, nuclear power plants, and railway connections.

Andrew Korybko writes Moscow invaluably fills the much-needed niche of providing its partners there with “Democratic Security”, or in other words, the cost-effective and low-commitment capabilities needed to thwart colour revolutions and resol- ve unconventional Wars (collectively referred to as Hybrid War).

To simplify, Russia’s “political technologists” have reportedly devised bespoke solutions for confronting incipient and ongoing color revolutions, just like its private military contractors (PMCs) have supposedly done the same when it comes to ending insurgencies.

Once we look through the Optics of two nuclear-capable supersonic bombers belonging to the Russian Air Force landing in Pretoria for the aircraft’s first-ever landing on the African continent and, according to an embassy official, only the second country in which it has made a public appearance outside of Russia.

The first was Venezuela. Then we need to see this move for what it is. It is meaningful.

Where Xi is fed up and speaks about the ‘’The End of Vanity’’ becau- se the ROI [outside commodities and telecoms for China] is negative, Putin has created a hybrid model with an exponential ROI. I would imagine he is on speed dial.

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

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