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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Monday 21st of June 2021

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Africa writes back @aeonmag H/T @hofrench

Four different writing systems have been used in Algeria. Three are well known – Phoenician, Latin and Arabic – while one is both indigenous to Africa and survives only as a writing system. 

The language it represents is called Old Libyan or Numidian, simply because it was spoken in Numidia and Libya. 

Since it’s possible that it’s an ancestor of modern Berber languages – although even that’s not clear – the script is usually called Libyco-Berber. 

Found throughout North Africa, and as far west as the Canary Islands, the script might have been used for at least as long as 1,000 years. 

Yet only short passages of it survive, all of them painted or engraved on rock. Everything else written in Libyco-Berber has disappeared.

Libyco-Berber has been recognised as an African script since the 17th century. But even after 400 years, it hasn’t been fully deciphered. There are no long texts surviving that would help, and the legacy of the written language has been one of acts of destruction, both massive and petty. 

That fate, of course, is not unique. It’s something that’s characteristic of modern European civilisation: it both destroys and treasures what it encounters in the rest of the world. 

Like Scipio Africanus weeping while he gazed at the Carthage he’d just obliterated, the destruction of the other is turned into life lessons for the destroyer, or artefacts in colonial cabinets of curiosities. 

The most important piece of Libyco-Berber writing was pillaged and sold to the British Museum for five pounds. It’s not currently on display.

As a spoken language, Punic survived for several hundred years. Augustine, growing up in what’s now Algeria, was certainly acquainted with it, and referred to it later in life as ‘our’ language, the language of we ‘Africans’. 

Punic also survived in numerous inscriptions in stone throughout North Africa and the Mediterranean, as far east as the Anatolian plateau in Turkey. Most of these inscriptions are on funerary stelae, stone slabs that marked graves. 

Rome needed texts that befitted the dignity of a world empire and so, by the time of Augustus, the great epic the Aeneid was written about the founding of Rome. 

Its first half is the story of how Aeneas left behind Carthage, whose queen, Dido, destroyed herself out of fury and grief. 

She embodies the trauma of a culture destroyed in a war that gave Rome supremacy over the Mediterranean.

The newest inscriptions date from the 4th and 5th centuries CE, but the great 14th-century Arabic sociologist and historian Ibn Khaldun might have been describing a Lybic inscription that, he reported, included the name Suleiman. 

If he was right, that inscription suggests that the Lybic script was used after the arrival of Islam in Morocco in 680 CE, and possibly during Ibn Khaldun’s lifetime. 

Another possibility is that it never really did die out. 

One of the newer inscriptions was found in the tomb of a woman known as Tin Hinan, buried in the 4th century. 

Today she’s regarded by the Tuareg in the Hoggar Mountains of Algeria as their ancestral matriarch. 

Writing of Libyco-Berber in her book So Vast the Prison(1995), Assia Djebar says: ‘Our most secret writing, as ancient as Etruscan or the writing of the runes, but unlike these a writing still noisy with the sounds and breath of today, is indeed the legacy of a woman in the deepest desert.’

For Djebar it includes, above all, an ancestral writing that lives in ‘the intractability and mobility of a people who, in a gesture of supreme elegance, let their women preserve the writing while their men wage war in the sun or dance before the fires at night.’

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Margaret Atwood's Cat's Eye is a sharp study of a very female torture

I am still immersed in @MargaretAtwood

One of the first things you notice when embarking on the unsettling experience of reading Cat’s Eye is that its narrator, Elaine, is herself unusually observant. Her memories of her messed-up childhood are more than vivid.

We are introduced to Elaine’s teenage friend Cordelia, who has “grey-green eyes, opaque and glinting as metal”

 The smells Atwood describes are especially evocative: that streetcar “is muggy with twice-breathed air and the smell of wool”; Stephen “smells of peppermint LifeSavers” over his usual scent of “cedarwood pencils and wet sand; the alcohol her entomologist father uses in his work “smells like white enamel basins”. 

As Elaine even tells us, with typical wryness: “We remember through smells, like dogs do.”

Worse still, Cordelia makes Elaine scrutinise herself: “Cordelia brings a mirror to school … She takes it out of her pocket and holds the mirror up in front of me and says ‘Look at yourself! Just look!’ Her voice is disgusted.”

If you think that sounds nasty, read what happens when she encounters a wringer. When you are always being watched, your own powers of observation can extract a terrible price.

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MaddAddam concludes the dystopian trilogy that began with Oryx and Crake (2003) and continued with The Year of the Flood (2009).

While the plots of these previous novels ran along a parallel timeline, MaddAddam is the continuation of both books. MaddAddam is written from the perspective of Zeb and Toby, who were both introduced in The Year of the Flood.

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Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood

Moral Disorder is such a suite, consisting of 11 short stories. Place, perhaps the commonest cement of the story suite, is not very important, but the stories have a single protagonist, a central character- or I think they do. She is variable, elusive, even a bit slippery. This is, after all, a book by Margaret Atwood.

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Who is Iran's new President-elect Ebrahim Raisi? @dwnews
Law & Politics

Ebrahim Raisi won the election by such a clear margin that a second round of voting won't be necessary

Ebrahim Raisi was born in 1960 into a strictly religious family in the country's second largest city, Mashhad. 

For Shiite Muslims, the city is one of the country's most important pilgrimage sites and home to the Imam Reza shrine. 

The custodian of the shrine is an influential foundation that was headed by Raisi from 2016 to 2019.

Raisi himself underwent extensive theological training and holds the title of hojatoleslam, which literally means "authority on Islam." In Iran's religious hierarchy, the position is second only to ayatollah.

Raisi's career began after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, when he was appointed prosecutor general of Karaj, a suburb of Tehran, at the age of 20. 

It was the first of many positions he would hold in the judiciary. He later became a judge, and since 2019 he has headed up the country's judiciary.

One episode from Raisi's time as deputy prosecutor in Tehran's Revolutionary Court has stuck with him to this day: according to Amnesty International, Raisi was involved in extrajudicial executions in 1988 as a member of the country's "death commission."

When he does enter office, the new president will be overseeing a country in a dismal economic state, with inflation at 40%. Improving the situation is likely to be a decisive factor in the success of his presidency. 

Raisi also enjoys the backing of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; during the election campaign, Khamenei described Raisi as a "trustworthy and experienced man." 

While the president is responsible for the day-to-day business of government, the supreme spiritual leader dictates the country's long-term plans.

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“One type of paradise that men imagine is about streams, beautiful maidens, and lush landscape. But there is another kind of paradise—the battlefield.”The front, he said, was “the lost paradise of the human beings.”
Law & Politics

“When I see the children of the martyrs, I want to smell their scent, and I lose myself.” 

It was Sulemaini who led the fight against Saddam As Revolutionary Guard commanders, he belonged to a small fraternity formed during the Sacred Defense, the name given to the Iran-Iraq War, which lasted from 1980 to 1988 and left as many as a million people dead.

Later, Suleimani and the group stand on the banks of a creek, where he reads aloud the names of fallen Iranian soldiers, his voice trembling with emotion. 

During a break, he speaks with an interviewer and describes the fighting in near-mystical terms. 

“The battlefield is mankind’s lost paradise—the paradise in which morality and human conduct are at their highest,” he says.

“One type of paradise that men imagine is about streams, beautiful maidens, and lush landscape. But there is another kind of paradise—the battlefield.”

The front, he said, was “the lost paradise of the human beings.”

The supreme leader, who usually reserves his highest praise for fallen soldiers, has referred to Suleimani as “a living martyr of the revolution.” 

“In the end, he drank the sweet syrup of martyrdom.”

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Vladislav Surkov: ‘An overdose of freedom is lethal to a state’ @FT @HenryJFoy
Law & Politics

“There are two options,” says Vladislav Surkov as we settle into our seats

“The first is Anglo-Saxon. I give you the menu, you can choose what you want. The second option is Russian. There is no choice. The chef chooses for you, because he knows better what you want.” Surkov smiles. “I suggest the Russian option.”

And so begins a meal heavily seasoned with allegory and metaphor, orchestrated by a man who helped to strangle Russia’s infant democracy and replace it with an enfeebled parody of heavily scripted political reality TV that has kept Vladimir Putin in power for 21 years and counting — despite the rising tide of dissatisfaction and unrest at its dwindling economic benefits.

Surkov is a founding father of Putinism, and one of its key enablers. He is the architect of Russia’s “sovereign democracy”, an ostensibly open system with a closed outcome: elections are called, candidates campaign, votes are cast, ballot boxes are opened, and the same man wins, every single time.

Its core idea is that the stability of the state supersedes the freedom of the individual, and entails fake opposition parties, rigid control of the media and impossible barriers to entry for political figures not approved by the regime, offset by the illusion of the traditional trappings of a true democracy.

Grey cardinal, éminence grise, a modern Rasputin, a Russian Richelieu — Surkov exhausts the clichés as the consummate Kremlin backroom operator. 

Never elected, he was Putin’s chief ideologist and by most accounts his closest political confidant for more than a dozen years, who went on to stage-manage the 2014 annexation of Crimea and Russia’s involvement in the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine.

Surkov is either 56 or 58, depending on which biography you believe; in Russian political terms, he is only just reaching his prime. 

But he is no longer inside the towering red brick walls of the Kremlin, having parted ways with Putin last spring. From scripting Russia’s democracy, he is now simply controlling my diet.

In jeans and a pullover, in a secluded corner of an ostentatious restaurant perched on the roof of a luxury Moscow department store, Surkov says that his departure is irreversible, and that a year away from Putin’s side has taught him “the true meaning of serenity”. 

He has stayed out of the limelight since departing, publishing some poetry and — he tells me — exchanging political management for political philosophy.

We order champagne (Surkov says he only drinks sparkling) and as the first of five preordained courses arrives — a mess of barely discernible shredded vegetables drowning in truffle oil — I ask the obvious question: how does one dismantle democracy while enhancing its facade?

“In the Soviet Union, there was a lot of homogeneity. And that homogeneity ruined the Soviet Union, because people need diversity. But in the 1990s, we had diversity. And that diversity was ruining Russia even faster,” he begins.

“For a while I was a student at the institute of culture. I studied the Commedia dell’arte. There is a limited cast: Pantalone, the merchant. There is a judge, Tartaglia. There is Harlequin, a stupid servant. Brighella, a smart servant. Colombina, the young servant, and so on. There is a limited group of players, but they represent all strata of society.”

I am initially bemused by this detour into Italian theatrical nomenclature but it soon becomes clear.

“People need to see themselves on stage,” he continues. “In this masked comedy, there is a director, there is a plot. And this is when I understood what needed to be done.

“We had to give diversity to people. But that diversity had to be under control. And then everyone would be satisfied. And at the same time, the unity of the society would be preserved . . . It works, this model works. It is a good compromise between chaos and order.”

Later in our conversation, which took place three weeks before Wednesday’s summit in Geneva, Surkov will spell out his central doctrine with even less nuance: 

“An overdose of freedom is lethal to a state,” he says. “Anything that is medicine can be poison. It is all about the dosage.”

Raised by his mother in a city 300km from Moscow, his Chechen father having left the family when Surkov was still young, he took an unorthodox route to Putin’s side.

He served in the Soviet army, worked as a turner in a factory, and spent years “smoking and talking with hippies and some other queer people” before entering the chaotic world of Russia’s nascent capitalism as first a bodyguard and then a PR man for banking and oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. 

Khodorkovsky was later stripped of his assets, jailed and exiled during Surkov’s time in the Kremlin.

After a stint at Russia’s state TV channel he was made an assistant to Alexander Voloshin, President Boris Yeltsin’s chief of staff, in 1999. When Putin inherited the Kremlin at the turn of the millennium, Surkov was made deputy chief of staff.

“When the change happened, it was absolutely clear to me that the personality of the new leader provided an opportunity,” Surkov recollects. 

“With Putin, I realised everything that I wanted to do could be done now.”

Surkov entered the Kremlin when Russia’s democracy was just eight years old. In that short time, Yeltsin had survived an attempted coup, almost lost the presidency to a communist, and had in effect mortgaged the Kremlin to a small coterie of businessmen who were now calling the shots.

The industrious young political strategist got straight to work, building a party for Putin — today’s United Russia, which has won every election it has entered — while also helping to set up other parties such as the nationalist Rodina (Motherland), nominally independent but Kremlin-directed, designed to appeal to disgruntled citizens who might otherwise have voted for real opponents of Putin, such as staunch leftists.

He tells me that Putin, with his help, created “a new type of state”. He describes his former boss as a modern-day Octavian, the Roman ruler who succeeded Julius Caesar.

“Octavian came to power when the nation, the people, were wary of fighting. He created a different type of state. It was not a republic any more . . . he preserved the formal institutions of the republic — there was a senate, there was a tribune. But everyone reported to one person and obeyed him. Thus he married the wishes of the republicans who killed Caesar, and those of the common people who wanted a direct dictatorship,” he says.

“Putin did the same with democracy. He did not abolish it. He married it with the monarchical archetype of Russian governance. This archetype is working. It is not going anywhere . . . It has enough freedom and enough order.”

This is easy for him to say. Less so for those who oppose Putin’s stealth autocracy, such as Alexei Navalny, the leader of Russia’s grassroots opposition, who has mobilised hundreds of thousands of protesters against the regime over the past decade despite constant attacks. 

Last year, he was poisoned with a weapons-grade nerve agent in an assassination attempt he says was ordered by the Kremlin and, after he recovered, was arrested and jailed.

In response, tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets this winter, only to be violently beaten by riot police and detained. Is that part of Surkov’s scripted democracy?

“When I started my work in 2000, I suggested a very simple system to bring law and order. We split the opposition into systemic and non-systemic. And what is systemic opposition? That is one that obeys the rules, laws and customs,” he says, referring to Kremlin-directed opposition parties.

I call him out on this obvious paradox. An opposition that is loyal to those who set the rules is no opposition at all. He presses on.

“The second requirement is that they do not work for foreign governments. If they do that, they cannot represent Russians . . . it breaches our sovereignty,” he says. 

“How to exclude it is a matter of taste, and depends on the temper of certain people.”

Navalny’s organisation has been designated as a “foreign agent”, and its members will be banned from participating in elections. It denies receiving foreign support.

I ask him if he is shocked by the new level of violence being used by police against protesters this spring. 

He smiles, and says he has no idea. I recommend he goes to a protest. “Me? Why should I?” he responds with mock affront.

“The state protects itself, everywhere,” he retorts. “Sorry, I’m saying simple things like a Kremlin propagandist, but this is obvious. In all countries, illegal rallies are crushed by force. Why should we be different?

“That man is not acceptable. Navalny is not acceptable,” he says. “He should not be part of Russian politics. Germans love him, let him be elected to the Bundestag . . . They can give him a German passport.”

This sharp nationalist edge lies just below the surface of this suave intellectual, who blends Bible quotes with financial market theory and kept a photo of the late US rapper Tupac Shakur in his government office.

Waiters bustle around. Delicious tuna carpaccio is an improvement on the sorry salad, and next comes slices of excellent rare beef under shredded parmesan. Surkov barely touches his food and takes tiny sips of his champagne.

In 2011, Surkov moved from the Kremlin to become deputy prime minister, and in May 2013 was dismissed from government. His rivals toasted the end of his regency. 

But four months later he returned, this time as a formal aide to Putin, with oversight over Ukraine policy. It would be an assignment with similarly seismic impacts as his first.

Surkov tells me that when he worked for Khodorkovsky in the 1990s, he wrote a memo to a senior politician arguing for the need for Russia to retake Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that became part of independent Ukraine when the USSR dissolved. 

But, he admits, Russia lacked both the resources and the organisation at the time.

In February 2014, five months after Surkov’s new appointment, unmarked Russian troops entered Crimea to capture strategic sites, and lend muscle to pro-Russian separatists that demanded independence from Kyiv.

A month later, in a referendum declared illegal by the UN General Assembly, the territory voted to become a part of Russia. 

Simultaneously, pro-Russian groups in eastern Ukraine, supported by Moscow, began taking control of regional institutions and clashing with federal security services — clashes that erupted into a full-blown war that continues today.

Surkov is unrepentant, and portrays himself as someone seeking to help — not dissect — a country long divided between east and west. 

“Ukrainians are very well aware that for the time being, their country does not really exist. I have said that it could exist in the future. The national core exists. I am just asking the question as to what the borders, the frontier should be. And that should be the subject for an international discussion,” he says.

“The country can be reformed as a confederation, with a lot of freedom for the regions to decide things by themselves,” he continues. 

“Two bones need soft tissue between them. Ukraine is right between Russia and the west, and the geopolitical gravity of both will sever Ukraine.

“Until we reach that outcome, the fight for Ukraine will never cease. It may die down, it may flare up, but it will continue, inevitably.”

Surkov describes the Minsk agreements — a peace deal signed by Moscow, Kyiv and pro-Russian rebels — as an act that “legitimised the first division of Ukraine”.

I remind him that 14,000 people have been killed in fighting since 2014, including 298 civilians on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 that was shot down by pro-Russian rebels, according to international investigations that Moscow rejects. Surkov says that was “a pity”.

“I am proud that I was part of the reconquest. This was the first open geopolitical counter-attack by Russia [against the west] and such a decisive one. That was an honour for me,” he says. 

“Could it have been done better? Of course it could . . . But we have got what we have got.”

Throughout his time at Putin’s side, Surkov was deployed as a deft propagandist, and shrewd manipulator of public mood. 

He helped birth Nashi, a nationalist youth group that venerated Putin and harassed perceived enemies of the state. Much of the Kremlin propaganda spewed out by state TV and social media troll armies was drafted on his desk.

“People need it,” he says in response to my comment that much of that propaganda is dangerous. “Most people need their heads to be filled with thoughts.

“You are not going to feed people with some highly intellectual discourse. Most people eat simple foods. Not the kind of food we are having tonight. Generally most people consume very simple-meaning beliefs. This is normal. There is haute cuisine, and there is McDonald’s,” he laughs. “Everyone takes advantage of such people all over the world.”

Yet at some point, his methods saw him fall from favour. He had become, in his own words, “too odious”.

“When someone fills a certain office, and people talk about him for so long that he is a puppeteer, that he is a strangler of democracy, that he is [19th-century reactionary adviser to three Russian tsars] Pobedonostsev and Rasputin — that is the essence of being odious,” he says. 

“The government has to remove such people now and then . . . those people have to be replaced, so that they stop irritating people.”

But he also asserts that his final departure was mutual — that the fun of dressing up a one-party state as a democracy had gone.

“In 2000, it was unbelievably exciting. It was for the first time. Everyone said: ‘Wow!’” he recalls. 

“And so then what else? I had built this car, but I got bored driving it. It needed people who are more patient sitting at their desks. I am not a driver.”

Yet he still evidently likes to be in charge. Without my knowledge, he has already settled the bill. I protest, citing FT rules. He waves me away, citing his own.

Surkov, who has mystified Kremlin watchers with his low profile since leaving — neither political exile nor lucrative business appointments — rebuffs my persistent questions about a possible return to the fray. 

But as the plates of panna cotta are cleared, and I ask about his role in the next Kremlin transition, his discipline finally cracks.

“Well, let’s wait and see. Some exciting things are ahead of us. There will be many new dramatic transformations,” he says. 

“Yes, I would like to understand when it will happen. If I live long enough, when it happens, then I will have a job.”

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I thought to myself This all has the Imprimatur of the "political technologist of all of Rus." And non linear War Specialist Vladislav Surkov.
Law & Politics

And it all left me wondering Who exactly is controlling the Console?

Is this Statue toppling business a Gladwellian and metastatic type Event?

I thought to myself This all has the Imprimatur of the "political technologist of all of Rus."

And non linear War Specialist Vladislav Surkov.

Putin's system was also ripe for export, Mr Surkov added. Foreign governments were already paying close attention, since the Russian "political algorithm" had long predicted the volatility now seen in western democracies.

With a flourish he sponsored lavish arts festivals for the most provocative modern artists in Moscow, then supported Orthodox fundamentalists, dressed all in black and carrying crosses, who in turn attacked the modern-art exhibitions. @TheAtlantic

"It was the first non-linear war," writes Surkov in a new short story, "Without Sky," published under his pseudonym and set in a dystopian future after the "fifth world war":

"My portfolio at the @KremlinRussia_E and in government has included ideology, media, political parties, religion, modernization, innovation, foreign relations, and ..." - here he pauses and smiles - "modern art."

A ceaseless shape-shifting that is unstoppable because it is undefinable Adam Curtis

The underlying aim, Surkov says, is not to win the war, but to use the conflict to create a constant state of destabilised perception, in order to manage and control

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

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South Africa and UK >10k new #COVID19 yesterday with daily average doubling past 2wks. @jmlukens

Nations w/ high COVID-19 2wk avg case/day increase

Rwanda: 602%

Zambia: 375%

Namibia: 184%

Mongolia: 168%

Congo: 157%

UK: 120%

South Africa: 111%

Uganda: 99%

Bangladesh: 88%

Kyrgyzstan: 82%

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09-MAY-2021 The Markets The Lotos-eaters
World Of Finance

On 8th March when the Bears had gotten hold of the US 10 Year, I wrote that I expected the 10 Year to target 1.45% well we got real close on Friday before the market reversed 

Ten- year yields initially plunged to a more than two-month low of 1.46%, then reversed to end the day at 1.58%. However, I am resetting my target Yield to 1.25% now.

Given the volume of money Printing and the extraordinary stimulus I have to say that the US Recovery is actually really weak and I believe it will be very short lived and the Penny will drop soon with the Bond Market and the Shorts will be forced to cover.

The Consensus View appears to be that the Global economy is going to accelerate big time and that its going to BOOM! 

I beg to differ

Furthermore The Central Banks are in a corner. 

They have fired a lot of bullets and even if there was a meaningful bounce they cannot raise rates.

Here is why central banks are trapped and cannot raise rates even if inflation rises: @dlacalle_IA Feb 2 

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.1876

Dollar Index 92.211

Japan Yen 109.90

Swiss Franc 0.9221

Pound 1.3812

Aussie 0.7503

India Rupee 74.152

South Korea Won 1134.98

Brazil Real 5.09067

Egypt Pound 15.6423

South Africa Rand 14.3392

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Africa is currently reporting a million new infections about every 81 days @ReutersGraphics

Nambia DR Congo at peak 

Uganda and Zambia at 97%

Rwanda at 96% 

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African nations w/ most COVID-19 avg 2wk case/day increase @jmlukens

Lesotho: 1208%

Sierra Leone: 1039%

Rwanda: 670%

Malawi: 548%

Liberia: 393%

Zambia: 335%

Mozambique: 139%

Namibia: 121%

South Africa: 111%

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Nations w/ high COVID-19 2wk avg deaths/day increase South Africa 121 avg #COVID19 deaths per day up 58% past 2wks. @jmlukens

Uganda: 1254%

Zambia: 836%

Afghanistan: 179%

Oman: 94%

Sri Lanka: 60%

South Africa: 58%

Bangladesh: 49%

Namibia: 46%

Tunisia: 31%

Venezuela: 24%

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#COVID19 in GAUTENG 8,403 new cases = new daily record Test positivity rate ~25% @rid1tweets

• 8,403 new cases = new daily record
• 7-day avg of cases at 6,405 = 21% higher than previous peak
• Test positivity rate ~25%
• 5,178 patients currently in hospital Ambulance
• 1,102 patients in ICU Palms up together

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In the last 24 hours, 2,060 new confirmed COVID-19 cases out of 8,278 tests conducted were recorded representing a 25% positivity rate. Lusaka Times

“Sadly, in the last 24 hours, we recorded a record high in mortality, having recorded Forty-Nine (49) new deaths.” Dr Malama said.

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NEW: France accuses Russia of “seizure of power" in Central African Republic, Says Russia is leading an anti French campaign & aims to “exploit the country for its wealth” @ASBMilitary

NEW: France accuses Russia of “seizure of power" in Central African Republic,  CAR's cooperation with Russian "mercenaries" forced Paris to withdraw a number of its soldiers. Says Russia is leading an anti French campaign & aims to “exploit the country for its wealth”

28 OCT 19 :: From Russia with Love

“Russia regards Africa as an important and active participant in the emerging polycentric architecture 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

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 organised 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.

 Putin has created a hybrid model with an exponential ROI. 

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 resolve unconventional Wars (collectively referred to as Hybrid War).

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

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The last of Africa’s philosopher kings Kenneth David Kaunda, 28 April 1924 – 17 June 2021 @thecontinent_

The multiple compromises this resulted in are well demonstrated by his professed ideology: Zambian humanism. 

It was left-wing without being explicitly socialist; focused on the struggle for human progress without being “godless”; and was community-minded while rejecting the principle of tribalism.

The relatively poor performance of the leaders who succeeded him only served to boost his political rehabilitation. 

Kaunda’s post-presidency, spent in an unpretentious house in Lusaka, only reinforced these perceptions.

As some on social media have noted, it was characteristic of Kaunda to have been treated and to have died in a Zambian hospital – unlike so many of Africa’s elite who flaunt their status and wealth, and fly to the United States or India for medical treatment.

When Zambians observe 21 days of national mourning, they will not just be grieving for KK, but also for a lost era of hope, unity, and national pride.

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Gbagbo’s back On Thursday afternoon, a Brussels Airlines plane touched down in Cote d’Ivoire’s commercial capital, Abidjan. On board was former president Laurent Gbagbo, returning home for the first time since 2011 @thecontinent_

Gbagbo has spent the past decade in involuntary exile in Europe, after being arrested and tried in the The Hague for crimes against humanity, in connection with the 2011 post-election violence in which thousands of people were killed. 

But Gbagbo was acquitted in 2019, and retains plenty of support. It is unclear so far whether his return will reignite tensions with his nemesis, President Alassane Ouattara, or allow the pair to reconcile.

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Tigray Violence, Famine Cast Shadow Over Ethiopian Elections @bpolitics

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appears assured of retaining his post after Monday’s elections, despite having waged a civil war that’s triggered a famine and failing to contain exploding ethnic tensions.

Some of the main opposition groups are either boycotting the vote or banned from competing, while the 42 others that remain in the running will fragment the anti-government vote. 

That leaves Abiy’s Prosperity Party with a clear path to retain its majority in the 547-seat House of People’s Representatives -- which elects the premier.

Originally scheduled for August last year, the vote was twice delayed -- first due to the coronavirus pandemic and then to give the authorities more time to prepare. 

So far, 38.3 million of the East African nation’s 110 million people have registered to cast ballots at 43,372 polling stations. 

Voting is due to get under way at 6 a.m. local time, and results are expected within 10 days.

Abiy, 44, came to power after Hailemariam Desalegn quit in 2018 and won the Nobel Peace Prize the following year for ending a long-running conflict with neighboring Eritrea and instituting democratic reforms. 

He also moved to open up the insular economy, drawing billions of dollars of foreign investment that secured Ethiopia as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

The unbanning of opposition and rebel groups, however, stoked political fragmentation and long-suppressed rivalries among the nation’s ethnic groups. 

Hundreds of people have died in fighting in the Amhara, Oromia and Benishangul-Gumuz regions. The government responded by arresting opposition leaders and their supporters.

Violence reached new heights after Abiy dispatched federal troops to the northern Tigray province in November after forces loyal to the region’s ruling party attacked a military base. 

Thousands have died in fighting that ensued, and hundreds of thousands of others have been forced from their homes.

Relief agencies have warned of an unfolding humanitarian crisis, and said the authorities have obstructed efforts to dispense aid to those who need it, an allegation the government denies.

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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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Has Nigeria's President Buhari Lost Control? @DeutscheWelle @allafrica

Government crackdowns on increasingly violent protests and a blanket Twitter ban suggest weakness at the top, while citizens face rising terrorism and kidnappings. Conflict Zone meets Abuja's ambassador to Germany.

Less than a year after protests against police abuse turned into the largest anti-government demonstration in Nigeria's 20-year-old democracy, an onslaught of political, economic and security crises along with various outbreaks of violence around the country have ensnared the government.

The political brand and two electoral successes of President Muhammadu Buhari were built on the promise of ending violence and improving public administration. 

But the deterioration of the conditions in the south, where the Biafra independentist rebels have increased attacks on government forces, has opened a new armed front in what had been a somewhat dormant conflict. 

This comes as the government in Lagos continues to struggle with the situation in the north, where Boko Haram Islamists have been fighting the government for close to two decades.

Turning an already violent stage into a considerably more dangerous one, in May of this year, the Council of Foreign Relations reported that IS is now the dominant force in what until now has been Boko Haram's turf -- meaning that IS has effectively established a West African foothold in Nigeria under Buhari's watch.

A very dangerous geostrategic situation with an unimaginable cost in blood for the local population of northeastern Nigeria has now become a geostrategic timebomb, opening a military black hole at the gates of Cameroon, Chad and Niger. 

The escalation has exposed the way in which the limits to the efficacy of the government in Lagos also represents a major regional strategic vulnerability.

Biafra conflict returns

In the southern region of Biafra, the secessionist push that detonated the Nigerian civil war and famine between 1967 and 1970, killing close to 1 million people and displacing close to 4 million, has come back to haunt the Buhari government. 

Long-simmering tensions and widespread dissatisfaction with neglect and lack of development in the Igbo-dominated region have resulted in a spate of violent attacks on government figures and military personnel. 

In May, the government launched Operation Restore Peace, which critics have described as a repressive strategy designed to destroy the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement and its armed wing, the Eastern Security Network.

Buhari announced earlier this month that his forces had been granted permission to be ruthless: "we have given the police and the military the power to be ruthless with people stealing another person's belongings and destroying others' property."

Pressed on the meaning of Buhari's statement and whether it was a carte blanche for mass extrajudicial killings, Tuggar explained that the president's words meant no more than upholding the sovereign right of Nigeria to claim "monopoly of violence so that non-state actors will not unravel such countries and unleash mayhem and death and murder and massacre."

Meanwhile, reports of violations of civil rights in Igbo regions have shown the stirrings of a conflict that could spark anew into a full conflagration. 

The apparent collaboration of Igbo separatists with Cameroonian independentists makes for a second volatile situation with strong geopolitical echoes.

Twitter banned in Nigeria

In early June, Buhari again stirred major controversy when, via Twitter, he threatened a violent clampdown in the country's southeast. In response, the American microblogging platform deleted the tweet. 

Just two days later, Buhari's government banned Twitter in Nigeria, making anyone caught using the platform criminally liable -- a move it justified in the name of security measures. 

Tuggar defended the measure as an extension of the president's stance on the deleterious effects of social media, saying "Buhari has been consistent about the adverse effect of social media when it chooses not to be responsible for the real life, the real world."

Confronted with protesters' claims that democracy in Nigeria is backsliding and Buhari has lost his grip on the country, Ambassador Tuggar hit back, saying "Nigeria practices a democratic system of government" and emphasizing the country's separation of powers and democratic principles. 

"One of the most important norms of democracy is freedom of speech, which Nigeria upholds, which Nigeria celebrates...you cannot allow certain elements to use those democratic norms to subvert democracy itself, which is what they're trying to do."

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Turning to Africa

Democracy 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

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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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by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
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June 2021

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