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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Thursday 17th of December 2020

The Way We Live Now

There is a luminous and Fairy Tale feel to life

''You felt the land taking you back to something that was familiar, something you had known at some time but had forgotten or ignored, but which was always there.You felt the land taking you back to what was there a hundred years ago, to what had been there always.”

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.@WHO Weekly epidemiological update - 15 December 2020

In the past week, the five countries reporting the highest number of cases globally were the 

United States of America reporting over 1.4 million cases, a 16% increase from the previous week)

Brazil Brazil 300 000 new Cases a 2% increase

Turkey 220 000 cases, no change from last week 

India 210 000 cases, a 15% decrease

Russian Federation 193 000 new cases, a 1% increase

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US 247,403 new #COVID19 cases exponentially grew 1.46%. 3,656 new deaths grew 1.19% and is still accelerating. Average cases/day up 31% and average deaths/day up 60% past 2wks. @jmlukens

US 247,403 new #COVID19 cases exponentially grew 16,964,180 total 1.46%.  3,656 new deaths exponentially grew 307,429 total 1.19% and is still accelerating.  Average cases/day up 31% and average deaths/day up 60% past 2wks.

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Norske virusforskaren: Coronaviruset kommer från laboratorium

INTERVIEW. The coronavirus that causes covid-19 disease comes from a laboratory and has been leaked by mistake, says the Norwegian virologist Birger Sørensen in this interview with Fria Tider.

That it does not come from the animal kingdom is evident both from the virus' structure and from its rapid spread between humans, according to him.

Virologist Birger Sørensen is a relatively well-known face in Norway. When the swine flu ravaged in 2009, he was frequently interviewed in the media for his work on developing a vaccine. 

During the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014, he became media again when he commented on the virus outbreak and he has also received attention for his research on HIV.

When the corona pandemic began sweeping the world at the beginning of the year, Sørensen teamed up with British oncologist Angus Dalgleish and statistician Andres Susrud to research it

Their first report, which deals with how the virus binds to receptors in humans, was published in May this year by Quarterly Reviews of Biophysics Discovery.

- We wanted to publish a dissertation on vaccines and the importance of developing a safe vaccine and that you can do it, Birger Sørensen tells FriaTider.

But when the research team finished writing their second study, which deals with the origin of the virus, it stopped. None of the peer-reviewed scientific publications they turned to wanted to publish it.

The study has the eye-catching headline "The Evidence which Suggests that This Is No Naturally Evolved Virus" - The evidence suggests that this is not a naturally developed virus. Sørensen, Dalgleish and Susrud are convinced that the coronavirus comes from a laboratory.

- Research on coronavirus is underway in many places in China, in many places in the US and in Australia, Sørensen points out.

- I firmly believe that it was spread by accident. US authorities conducted an inspection in Wuhan in 2018 when it was described as a risk lab.

The Norwegian virologist points out that there are proven cases where viruses have been leaked from the laboratory, and that it is therefore not very controversial to claim that this virus can also have that origin.

- There are many laboratories that have made a mistake and released viruses by mistake. The original Sars virus was released from Singapore, he points out, referring to an incident in November 2003.

- There are many examples of viruses being leaked from class 3 and class 4 laboratories. I think the corona virus leaked as early as the second half of August, the beginning of September 2019. There is a lot to suggest that.

Birger Sørensen believes that, among other things, the structure of the coronavirus, and that it began to spread so quickly between humans, indicates that it does not come from the animal kingdom. 

Instead, the Norwegian researcher believes that it rather indicates that the virus has already been adapted for humans, by many laboratories researching viruses on human cells.

He also reverses the criticism that exists against claims that the coronavirus comes from a laboratory, which means that there is no evidence for it, by pointing out that no one has succeeded in proving that it comes from nature.

- There is no one who questions that it must be proven that the virus comes from nature. You have to prove that it comes from nature, otherwise it comes from a laboratory, he says.

At the same time, Sørensen emphasizes that there are plenty of scientific dissertations on how viruses are created artificially in the laboratory.

- A lot of research has been published, several hundred articles between 2015 and until mid-2019, which document that you can create such viruses and that you know what properties they have, says Sørensen.

The criticism of Sørensen has at times been very harsh. Kristian Andersen, professor of immunology and microbiology at the research laboratory Scripps Research in California, has dismissed Sørensen's report as "complete nonsense, incomprehensible and not even close to scientific". 

He made the assessment before the report was even published.

Birger Sørensen believes that there is such strong opposition to studies where research laboratories are singled out as scapegoats is due to the fact that there are strong interests in the public not questioning how research is conducted.

- The scientific community does not want to discuss issues that may hinder future virus research, he says.

- Virus research is a big topic. Some are researching coronavirus. Others are researching the flu. China in particular has good access to and engages in such research.

Sørensen emphasizes that there are many different purposes for researching viruses, and that not everyone is about stopping diseases and pandemics.

- That there is an aspect of being able to use such viruses as weapons should not be ruled out, says Birger Sørensen.

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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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‘’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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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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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.2227

Dollar Index 89.95

Japan Yen 103.08

Swiss Franc 0.8829

Pound 1.3580

Aussie 0.7635

India Rupee 73.5477

South Korea Won 1093.27

Brazil Real 5.0840

Egypt Pound 15.7263

South Africa Rand 14.7520

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

My investment thesis at the start of the year was that Bitcoin was going to get main-streamed in 2017. It has main-streamed beyond my wildest dreams,

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.

Gladwellian level move. “The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behaviour crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire”- Malcolm Gladwell. 

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Emerging Markets

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s coronavirus restrictions sent migrant workers fleeing. To get them home, the government offered special trains. But the trains would spread the virus across the country.

SURAT, India — The crowds surged through the gates, fought their way up the stairs of the 160-year-old station, poured across the platforms and engulfed the trains.

It was May 5, around 10 a.m. Surat was beastly hot, 106 degrees. Thousands of migrant laborers were frantic to leave — loom operators, diamond polishers, mechanics, truck drivers, cooks, cleaners, the backbone of Surat’s economy. 

Two of them were Rabindra and Prafulla Behera, brothers and textile workers, who had arrived in Surat a decade ago in search of opportunity and were now fleeing disease and death.

Rabindra stepped aboard carrying a bag stuffed with chapatis. His older brother, Prafulla, clattered in behind, dragging a plastic suitcase packed with pencils, toys, lipstick for his wife and 13 dresses for his girls.

“You really think we should be doing this?” Prafulla asked.

“What else are we going to do?” Rabindra said. “We have nothing to eat and our money’s out.”

They were among tens of millions of migrant workers stranded without work or food after Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a national coronavirus lockdown in March. 

By spring and summer, these workers were so desperate that the government provided emergency trains to carry them back to their home villages. The trains were called Shramik Specials, because shramik means “laborer” in Hindi.

But they became the virus trains.

India has now reported more coronavirus cases than any country besides the United States. And it has become clear that the special trains operated by the government to ease suffering — and to counteract a disastrous lack of lockdown planning — instead played a significant role in spreading the coronavirus into almost every corner of the country.

The trains became contagion zones: Every passenger was supposed to be screened for Covid-19 before boarding but few if any were tested

Social distancing, if promised, was nonexistent, as men pressed into passenger cars for journeys that could last days. 

Then the trains disgorged passengers into distant villages, in regions that before had few if any coronavirus cases.

One of those places was Ganjam, a lush, rural district on the Bay of Bengal, where the Behera brothers disembarked after their crowded trip from Surat. 

Untouched by the virus, Ganjam soon became one of India’s most heavily infected rural districts after the migrants started returning.

Many people in Ganjam’s villages had no idea what coronavirus symptoms were — until people around them started dying.

“There was a very direct correlation between the active Covid cases and the trains,” said Keerthi Vasan V., a district-level civil servant in Ganjam. “It was obvious that the returnees brought the virus.”

The tragic irony is that Mr. Modi’s lockdown inadvertently unlocked an exodus of tens of millions. 

His government and especially his Covid-19 task force, dominated by upper-caste Hindus, never adequately contemplated how shutting down the economy and quarantining 1.3 billion people would introduce desperation, then panic and then chaos for millions of migrant workers at the heart of Indian industry.

A top economic adviser to Mr. Modi, Sanjeev Sanyal, confirmed that the administration had been aware of the risks posed by moving people from urban hot spots to rural areas but said that the situation had been managed “quite well.”

Railroad officials also insist that the trains were the safest way to get migrant workers home.

“India has done extraordinarily well in managing the spread of disease compared to some of the materially most advanced countries of the world,” said D.J. Narain, a Ministry of Railways spokesman.

In all, the government organized 4,621 Shramik Specials, moving more than 6 million people. 

As they poured out of India’s cities, which were becoming hot spots, many returnees dragged the virus with them, yet they kept coming. Surat, an industrial hub, saw more than half a million workers leave on the trains.

“It felt like doomsday,” said Ram Singhasan, a ticket collector. “When you saw how many people were thronged outside, it looked like the end of the world was coming.”

On March 24, at 8 p.m., Mr. Modi hit the lockdown switch. In a televised address, he ordered the entire nation to stay inside their homes for three weeks — starting in four hours.

The decision was pure Modi: sudden, dramatic and firm, like when he abruptly wiped out nearly 90 percent of India’s currency bills in 2016, a bolt-from-the-blue measure that he said was necessary to fight corruption but proved economically devastating.

Prafulla and Rabindra Behera had just finished a dinner of rice, lentils and potatoes, their usual fare. 

They lived in squalid, bare rooms in Surat’s industrial zone, sleeping wall to wall on the floor with a half dozen other laborers. Within minutes of Mr. Modi’s address, they started getting calls.

“Everyone was thinking the same: This will be over soon and somehow we’ll pass the days,” Rabindra said.

At the time, India had fewer than 600 known virus cases.

Many experts have criticized Mr. Modi’s government for overlooking the plight of migrant laborers, who suddenly had no work, no income and no support network in the cities. 

The government’s Covid-19 task force lacked migrant specialists and was hardly representative of India. 

Of its 21 members, only two were women and the rest were largely upper-caste men. 

Many of the migrant laborers came from lower castes and economically underprivileged backgrounds.

Harsh Vardhan, India’s health minister, responded by saying that “not even in our wildest imaginations do we think about the caste” and that the task force’s members had been chosen for their “competence, capabilities and intellectual abilities.”

Mr. Modi’s lockdown closed all public transport, and immediately, some migrants began walking hundreds of miles, desperate to return to their home villages, where living was cheaper and they could find family support. 

After Mr. Modi declared a second lockdown in mid-April, the stream of migrants turned into a humanitarian disaster.

Tens of millions poured out of the cities, and India’s airwaves were dominated by horrific scenes of migrants and their families dying along the roads, from thirst, heat, hunger and exhaustion.

In New Delhi, railroad officials concluded there was no way to stop the migrants, said Arun Kumar, the head of the railroad police.

“And we knew that one day or another we would have to carry them,” he said.

India’s railroads ferried more than 8 billion passengers a year before the pandemic, traversing a network of 42,253 miles of track, enough to go around the earth nearly twice. 

It’s one of the world’s busiest train networks, the blood vessels of this country. Pressure was growing on Mr. Modi to use it.

Naveen Patnaik, the chief minister of Odisha state, which includes Ganjam, said he spoke to Mr. Modi about the plight of migrants.

“I knew that in this chronic situation that they would want to come home,” Mr. Patnaik said. The trains, he said, were the answer, but he emphasized that the key thing would be to bring back the workers “gradually.”

In Surat, the Behera brothers were down to their last bag of rice. They could not work — the factories were closed. 

But they weren’t allowed to leave the city, where virus cases were beginning to surge.

“We were trapped,” Rabindra said.

On May 1, India’s Labor Day, the railways ministry made a grand announcement: Shramik Specials. Routes were drawn up from Surat, Mumbai, Chennai, New Delhi, Ahmedabad and other cities deep into rural areas.

But Prafulla Behera, 39, was reluctant to get on a train. There was no work back in Ganjam — that’s why he had left in the first place.

Prafulla was respected back home, known to be both strong and affectionate. He never complained about having four daughters, ­even though just about everyone in the village wants sons. His younger brother, Rabindra, 32, usually did what Prafulla asked.

But this time, Rabindra pushed back.

“If we’re going to die,” Rabindra said, “we should die at home.”

The Behera brothers rode for 27 hours across the width of India, about a thousand miles, in a second-class, non-air-conditioned train packed to capacity. 

The heat seemed to be getting to Prafulla. During the journey, he complained of having a fever.

They stepped off in Ganjam on May 6, around 1 p.m., exhausted and dehydrated, among the first wave of migrants to return.

Far from any major city, Ganjam is a socially conservative, underdeveloped district with endless rice fields, empty beaches, squiggly Candy Land roads and a long tradition of its people pulling for each other. 

Initially, the news that loved ones were coming home was greeted with excitement.

“There was no fear,” said Santosh Kumar Padhy, a block chairman. “The villagers were planning welcome ceremonies.”

Ganjam’s officials hurriedly converted hundreds of schools into quarantine centers, drafted a work force of 10,000 people and adapted their freight train station to handle the Shramik Specials, which were longer than typical passenger trains.

The Beheras were told they would quarantine for 21 days at a center and each was given a toothbrush, a slice of soap, a bucket to wash with and a thin sheet to sleep on.

But the next morning, Prafulla awoke with a splitting headache. 

A doctor didn’t think he had coronavirus but suggested, as a precaution, that he be moved into the courtyard, away from the other men.

The following morning, Prafulla could barely breathe and called his wife on his cellphone.

“Come and bring the girls,” he whispered. “I need to see you.”

An hour later, he was dead. A subsequent test revealed that Prafulla Behera was Ganjam’s first coronavirus death.

Across the district, people began falling sick. The first dedicated Covid-19 hospital, with fewer than 60 intensive care beds, quickly filled; patients had to be laid out on the floors.

Testing was still relatively low but when authorities zeroed in on suspected carriers they found high positivity rates.

After Prafulla’s death, Rabindra and six other men who had traveled with him were tested. Six out of seven tested positive.

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But the Shramik Specials kept coming — four, five, six, sometimes 16 a day, each carrying as many as 2,000 migrants, many from Surat.

Across India, state leaders were under pressure from voters urging them to rescue stranded family members. Yet some recognized that the trains could mean trouble.

“It will lead to a spike in Covid-19 cases,” predicted Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal’s chief minister, in late May. “Who will take the responsibility then?”

A group of researchers at one of India’s most prestigious universities, the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, submitted a scientific paper in May, which was published a few months later, predicting that virus cases in Bihar, a rural state, would jump by 800 percent when migrants returned.

In New Delhi, health officials warned against packing the trains. There was no way to test most passengers. India was performing about 70,000 tests a day in early May, far fewer than the number of migrants lined up on train platforms some mornings.

Passengers were supposed to undergo temperature checks with laser thermometers. Middle seats were supposed to be empty for social distancing.

But in Ganjam, trains arrived “more than 100 percent” full, said Vijay Amruta Kulange, Ganjam’s collector, the top civil servant in the district.

Ganjam, with a population of around 3.5 million, was absorbing as many as 20,000 migrants a day and didn’t have enough schools to hold everyone. 

At one overcrowded center, migrants mutinied, smashing light bulbs and jamming toilets with plastic bottles, trying to be freed. 

To open up more space, the authorities dropped the quarantine period from 21 days to seven.

At the district’s first Covid-19 hospital, Dr. Umashankar Mishra said that at one point, the oxygen supply for 200 patients came within 15 minutes of running out. 

Dr. Mishra called the suppliers in a panic, only to learn that the truck carrying the oxygen cylinders was stuck at a railroad crossing.

“I never felt so bad in my life,” Dr. Mishra recalled.

When the truck finally arrived, Dr. Mishra bear-hugged one cylinder and waddled into intensive care.

If the truck had arrived any later, he said, “it would have been a massacre.”

Workers at the quarantine centers were among the first to get infected. An entire group of cooks in Konkarada village came down with body aches.

“We thought it was from working too hard,” said Bonita Pradhan, one of the cooks.

She tested positive, as did nine out of 10 of the other cooks. A broader survey in Konkarada found that 80 out of 100 people were coronavirus positive.

Across India, the same crisis unfolded: Poor communities, with few hospitals, witnessed sharp spikes in infections weeks after the Shramik Specials arrived.

“For the virus to reach villages, it needed a carrier, a speedy one,” said Thekkekara Jacob John, a senior virologist in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. 

“Then came the migrants, and particularly those who traveled by train. They wreaked havoc, wherever they went, unintentionally.”

In two rural districts in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, infections surged and are now above 40,000 cases, more than twice India’s per capita average. 

Similar surges were reported in states such as Nagaland, Bihar, Assam and, especially, in Chhattisgarh.

“Eighty percent of deaths and infections have happened in the rural areas after the arrival of the migrants,” said Tribhuwaneshwar Saran Singh Deo, a minister in Chhattisgarh’s state government. 

“The first mistake the central policymakers made was not checking the migrants at the station where they started from. The second was to open the flood gates all at once.”

In Bihar, state health officials said returning migrants were responsible for 70 percent of the first wave of infections.

“The quarantine centers turned into coronavirus hubs,” said Dr. Raj Kishore Chaudhary, a Bihar health official. “If asymptomatic patients would leave the center without getting detected, the cases would shoot up in areas where they lived.”

By the end of June, dozens of villages in Ganjam had been sealed off. Residents were ordered to stay inside. Police officers patrolled the silent lanes.

Taxis were converted into ambulances. Volunteers sewed masks, cooked food and answered help calls. At the quarantine centers, schoolteachers led yoga classes. 

The whole district was mobilized and straining.

“Imagine people are coming at 2 or 3 a.m. in the night, you receive them, register them, give them their kits, arrange where they will be staying. Doing all this, one gets tired,” admitted Naba Krishna Jena, an officer in the Ganjam government. 

“So when the crowd grew so big, compromises happened. And because of those compromises, the infections happened and spread.”

The trains finally stopped coming to Ganjam on June 30. By then, officials had raised the quarantine period back to 14 days and opened other Covid hospitals but the outbreak was already out of control.

In late June, Simanchal Satapathy, a popular teacher who became a champion for the rights of the migrants at the quarantine center that he oversaw, was admitted to a hospital but misdiagnosed three times: first with malaria, then pneumonia, then tuberculosis.

It wasn’t until a week after Mr. Satapathy, 26, came down with a high fever that he was tested for coronavirus. He was positive and soon died.

“I used to cradle him as a baby,” said his uncle, Pradeep Kumar Satapathy, breaking down. “We had no idea he had Covid.”

Ganjam’s caseload peaked in August and, overall, the district has reported 22,000 cases and 320 deaths, roughly the national average, according to Dr. Mishra, the physician who ran its Covid-19 hospital.

Mr. Kulange, the district’s top official, said Ganjam would have recorded “single-digit cases” had the migrants not come back.

“It was clear cut,” he said.

Most cases in Ganjam caused only mild symptoms and did not require hospitalization. 

But no one is certain of the district’s real death toll, just as that figure remains a mystery across the country. 

India has reported far fewer virus deaths per capita than many Western nations, but experts caution that 80 percent of all deaths in the country are not medically certified.

Mr. Patnaik, Odisha’s chief minister, said the Modi administration should have run the trains “in a more humane way” and before infections became so rampant in the cities.

But he, too, agreed that once the migration started, it was impossible to stop.

“This being a free country, I don’t think there was any way of controlling it,” he said.

Railroad officials said they had worked their hardest to safely transport 6.3 million people “in the most trying circumstances.”

When asked to respond to the data showing that the virus had spread rapidly in many districts after the trains arrived, Mr. Narain, the railroad spokesman, said much was still unknown about Covid-19 and “correlation of every kind is not necessarily causation.”

Mr. Vardhan, the health minister, said that the Modi administration had started the trains as soon as it could, given that states needed time to prepare quarantine centers first.

Opposition politicians have pushed for a parliamentary inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic but members of Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party have blocked them. 

In October, India’s Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit calling for an independent investigation.

In Ganjam, the scars are still fresh.

The home where Mr. Satapathy, the teacher, lived with his parents is now deserted. 

After he was told that his son had died, Mr. Satapathy’s father went to the market, paid off his debts and came home with a rope. He hanged himself from a tree.

Mr. Satapathy’s mother also killed herself. She was found hanging from a ceiling fan.

Rabindra Behera eventually returned to Surat, by train. His brother had been right: There was no work in Ganjam. And now Prafulla Behera’s widow and four daughters have no one to support them.

The plastic suitcase that Prafulla brought home, packed with gifts, was destroyed at the quarantine center. His daughters never got their 13 dresses.

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This week the African Region reported a rise in new cases and new deaths of over 40% compared with the previous week .@WHO Weekly epidemiological update - 15 December 2020

African Region

Following a decline in July and August and a plateau in September and October, the number of new cases and deaths has consistently increased since the beginning of November (Figure 3). 

In the last week, the number of new cases and deaths reported increased by 40% (to 74 500 new cases) and 43% (to 1 400 new deaths), respectively compared with the previous week. 

Several countries in the Region are reporting a resurgence in both cases and deaths including Mali, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa.

South Africa has reported the highest number of cumulative cases and deaths in the Region, with more than 850 000 confirmed cases and over 23 000 deaths. 

In the last week, 42 500 new cases (700 new cases per 1 million population) and 1 000 new deaths (18 new deaths per 1 million population) were reported. 

Four provinces including Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape were most heavily affected, collectively accounting for 84% of all newly reported cases. 

The increase in affected provinces is expected to continue as the number of cases among those aged 15 to 19 years continues to increase. 

This increase could be partly attributed to end-of-school-year celebrations during which many adolescents gathered in large numbers.

In Uganda, the number of reported cases has continued to increase and in the last seven days, just under 5 000 cases were reported (100 new cases per 1 million population), a 118% increase from the previous week. 

The districts of Kampala, Kasese, Luwero, Mbarara and Wakiso have consistently reported the highest number of cases for the past three weeks, with Kampala the most affected. 

So far in the pandemic, a total of 1 516 cases, including 13 deaths, have been reported among health care workers, with the highest number reported in the week commencing 23 November, during which over 150 cases in health care workers were reported.

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CoViD19-ΛFЯICΛ: Confirmed: 2 408 517 (+ 17459) Actives: 310 763 (+ 5108) @NCoVAfrica

Confirmed: 2 408 517 (+ 17459)

Actives: 310 763 (+ 5108)

Deaths: 57 074 (+ 406)

Recoveries: 2 039 047 (+ 11945)

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CoViD19-ΛFЯICΛ: Confirmed: 2 429 683 (+ 21166) @NCoVAfrica

Confirmed: 2 429 683 (+ 21166)

Actives: 311 653 (+ 890)

Deaths: 57 432 (+ 358)

Recoveries:  2 058 965 (+ 19918)

Update: Dec 17, 2020 - 8:40 am

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South Africa 10,008 #COVID19 cases yesterday above 7,870/day avg and accelerating. @@jmlukens

COVID-19 case/day increase past 2wks

#Namibia: 283%

#Nigeria: 280%

#Bolivia: 200%

#Belize: 168%

#SouthAfrica: 163%

#Mauritania: 147%

#Denmark: 140%

#Uruguay: 125%

#Israel: 90%

#SouthKorea: 88%

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COVID-19: SA's new infections breach 10,000 mark @SABreakingNews

The health ministry said the country's positivity rate currently stood at 21%

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The Democratic Republic of Congo will impose a curfew and other strict measures, including the mandatory wearing of masks in public spaces, to help quell a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic

Congo has recorded just 14,942 cases of coronavirus and 364 deaths from the disease since the epidemic was officially declared in March.

But it has seen a steady increase in recent weeks, with 345 new cases declared on Wednesday, most in the capital Kinshasa.

From Friday a curfew will be imposed from 21:00 to 05:00, while marches and meetings of more than 10 people will be banned, the Multisectoral Committee for the Response against COVID-19 said in a statement.

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Video of a demonstration today in the Saharawi refugee camp of Samara, condemning the recent decision by Trump to legitimize the Moroccan military occupation of Western Sahara as sovereignty: @SAHARAWIVOICE

Video of a demonstration today in the Saharawi refugee camp of Samara, condemning the recent decision by the outgoing US president Trump to legitimize the Moroccan military occupation of Western Sahara as sovereignty

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Turning to Africa The 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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Some of @HEBobiwine's supporters wade through a swamp to circumvent a security checkpoint deployed to block them from accessing his campaign rally in Rukiga District @DailyMonitor

Some of @NUP_Ug presidential candidate, @HEBobiwine's supporters wade through a swamp to circumvent a security checkpoint deployed to block them from accessing his campaign rally in Rukiga District on December 16, 2020 

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The Horn is in a worse state than it had ever been in a long time. Highly unstable and dangerous. @RAbdiAnalyst

This is laughable. There is nothing mature or consensus-driven about Tigray war. It was all driven by Afewerki's blinding desire for revenge, Abiy's insecurity and vulnerability.

The Horn is in a worse state than it had ever been in a long time. Highly unstable and dangerous.

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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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Afewerki, Abiy and Farmajo. a Tripartite Alliance @RAbdiAnalyst

I wrote this in 2 JUL 18 :: :Ethiopia Rising

The question now is whether the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front can sustain a prolonged guerrilla war @TheEconomist

Or alternatively @TheEconomist whether @PMEthiopia can sustain an occupation given that one suspects there are equally restive regions

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Sudan welcomes U.S. move to clear $1 billion in arrears to @WorldBank @Reuters

Sudan’s finance ministry said on Wednesday that it welcomed the U.S. Treasury’s move to clear $1 billion in Sudanese arrears to the World Bank after its removal from Washington’s list of terrorism sponsors.

The move allows Sudan to access $1.5 billion annually in funds from the International Development Association (IDA), which is an arm of the World Bank.

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10-JUN-2019 :: The "zeitgeist" of the Revolution in Khartoum was intoxicating

The ‘’zeitgeist’’ of the Revolution in Khartoum was intoxicating. As I watched events unfold it felt like Sudan was a portal into a whole new normal. 

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Exclusive-Suspected Chinese hackers stole camera footage from @_AfricanUnion - memo @Reuters @razhael

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As diplomats gathered at the African Union’s headquarters earlier this year to prepare for its annual leaders’ summit, employees of the international organization made a disturbing discovery.

Someone was stealing footage from their own security cameras.

Acting on a tip from Japanese cyber researchers, the African Union’s (AU) technology staffers discovered that a group of suspected Chinese hackers had rigged a cluster of servers in the basement of an administrative annex to quietly siphon surveillance videos from across the AU’s sprawling campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital.

The security breach was carried out by a Chinese hacking group nicknamed “Bronze President,” according to a five-page internal memo reviewed by Reuters. 

It said the affected cameras covered “AU offices, parking areas, corridors, and meeting rooms.”

“We cannot estimate the quantity and value of the data which have been stolen,” the memo continued, adding that while AU technicians had managed to interrupt the flow of data, the hackers could easily regain the upper hand.

“We are still weak to prevent another attack,” the memo said.

The alert, drafted in late January and circulated to senior officials, provides a glimpse of how world powers are jockeying for influence and visibility at the continent’s paramount pan-African organization. 

Some American and European officials have voiced concern as Beijing has stepped in to meet the AU’s needs - part of an Africa-wide shift that has seen China become the continent’s top creditor. 

Chinese workers built the AU’s showpiece new conference center in 2012 and Chinese technicians still help maintain the organization’s digital infrastructure.

The Chinese mission to the AU said in an email that “the AU side has not mentioned being hacked on any occasion” and that Africa and China are “good friends, partners and brothers.”

“We never interfere in Africa’s internal affairs and wouldn’t do anything that harms the interests of the African side,” the email said.

Repeated messages sent to AU spokesperson Ebba Kalondo asking about the January breach were marked as “read” but went unanswered.

Longstanding doubts over Beijing's role at the AU spilled into the open in 2018, when French newspaper Le Monde reported here that AU employees had found that the servers at the new conference center were sending copies of their contents to Shanghai every night and that the building itself had been honeycombed with listening devices.

Both the AU and the Chinese government vehemently denied the report at the time, but a former AU official told Reuters the article in Le Monde was accurate and had put officials there on high alert over cyberespionage.

The former official said the latest breach was discovered following a tip from Japan’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), which in a Jan. 17 email alerted AU officials to unusual traffic between the international organization’s network and a domain associated with Bronze President.

Koichiro Komiyama, who directs the global coordination division of Japan’s CERT, confirmed to Reuters that he sent the warning after a fellow researcher discovered the malicious traffic while picking through the hacking group’s old infrastructure.

The AU memo said that, within days of Komiyama’s email, the AU’s information technology team had traced the suspicious traffic to a set of servers in the basement of the organization’s Building C - part of an older complex across the road from the new conference center.

The memo said the hackers were able to siphon off “a huge volume of traffic” from the servers by hiding it in the regular flow of data leaving the AU’s network during business hours, even pausing their data theft during lunch.

Secureworks, an arm of Dell Technologies Inc which has been tracking Bronze President since 2018, confirmed that the malicious domain identified by Japan’s CERT was linked to the hackers.

Secureworks researcher Mark Osborn said his company had seen strong evidence that Bronze President operated from China, adding that it had been detected in several espionage campaigns targeting China’s neighbors, including Mongolia and India.

Any official protest over the spying is unlikely, according to the former AU official. 

He said China plays a critical role in keeping the organization running, including during an incident in June when part of the AU’s network was knocked out by a power failure and Chinese technicians swiftly repaired the damage.

For that reason, the former official expects that the surveillance camera incident - like the listening devices reported in 2018 - would be swept under the rug.

“Attacking the Chinese, for us, it’s a very bad idea,” he said.

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07-OCT-2019 :: Xi is building an Algorithmic Society.

Xi’s model is one of technocratic authoritarianism and a recent addition to his book shelf include The Master Algorithm by Pedro Domingos. Xi is building an Algorithmic Society.

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President Uhuru Kenyatta today at State House, Nairobi met Gen. Stephen Townsend, Commander of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) @StateHouseKenya
Law & Politics

President Uhuru Kenyatta today at State House, Nairobi met Gen. Stephen Townsend, Commander of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) during which they discussed the strengthening of military cooperation between Kenyan and American forces 

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Cash in Kenyans’ pockets jumps to 19-month high @BD_Africa
Kenyan Economy

The amount of cash circulating outside the banking system and in people’s pockets hit a 19-month high in October

Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) data shows that cash outside banks rose to Sh223 billion in October from Sh217 billion in September and Sh194 in April 

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Monday, June 11, 2012 The Serena @SerenaHotels
N.S.E Equities - Commercial & Services

MY memories of the Serena start in Mombasa years back when the managing director Mahmoud Jan Mohamed was the manager. 

I was then a teenager and remember losing my heart to a girl, who would beat me at table tennis, in a bikini. That table tennis Table is still there. 

The Serena brand has always been sprinkled with a fairy dust and reminds me of happy joyful carefree halcyon days of youth.

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TPS @SerenaHotels share price data
N.S.E Equities - Commercial & Services

Closing Price:           15.60

Total Shares Issued:          182174108.00

Market Capitalization:        2,841,916,085

EPS:             0.69

PE:                 22.609

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

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