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Monday 24th of May 2021

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Playing The China Card @NoemaMag BY RYAN HASS
Law & Politics

“We’re in competition with China and other countries to win the 21st century,” President Joe Biden declared last month during his first address to Congress. 

Through plans he has touted in recent weeks, Biden has called for Congress to invest upwards of $6 trillion in America’s future in order to outpace its challengers.

In so doing, Biden drew a page from America’s Cold War playbook. President Dwight D. Eisenhower made a similar appeal in 1955 for a national network of highways, in part to ensure resilience in the event of a Soviet nuclear attack. 

Following Soviet missile advances two years later, Eisenhower revived the theme to request funds to boost America’s higher education system to meet its national security needs. 

In 1961, standing in the shadow of the Soviet Union’s success in putting cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into orbit, President John F. Kennedy requested that Congress provide urgent funding for landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth.

Bipartisan Appeal Of Activism

Calling on Americans to come together to meet challenges posed by China also serves a more immediate purpose for President Biden. 

Biden ran for president on a theme of mellowing partisan divisions and promoting national unity. 

Amid the fractious partisanship of the current moment, China policy has become the most accessible meeting place for Democrats and Republicans. 

No other foreign or domestic issue provides the same potential for galvanizing support for building bridges and roads, expanding broadband, investing in America’s caring economy, increasing semiconductor production in the U.S. and accelerating progress on electric cars and emerging technologies.

As Tarun Chhabra, Scott Moore, and Dominic Tierney argued in the Foreign Affairs article, “The Left Should Play the China Card,” 

“In times of war or heightened geopolitical competition, the federal government has raised taxes, tightened economic regulation and increased spending on science, infrastructure and social services, boosting opportunities for marginalized groups and reducing wealth disparities.” 

They urged progressive politicians to frame a domestic reform agenda around rivalry with China and suggested that doing so could attract broad bipartisan support, including from conservatives.

There is a clear logic for the Biden administration to pursue this line of argumentation. 

Unlike when President Obama called on the American people in 2010 to rise to this generation’s “Sputnik moment” by investing in infrastructure, education and research, there now is broad public awareness of the challenges China poses to America’s place in the world. 

Events in Hong Kong and Xinjiang carry resonance for Americans in ways that they did not even a decade ago. 

Public dissatisfaction with China is at an all-time high. There are over 175 pending pieces of China legislation on Capitol Hill as of this month.

“Amid the fractious partisanship of the current moment, China policy has become the most accessible meeting place for Democrats and Republicans.”

While the payoffs of playing the China card could be tangible if done skillfully, this approach is not without risks and uncertainties. 

First, America today does not resemble 1950s Cold War America. As Janan Ganesh has observed in the Financial Times, Eisenhower’s America was a stable, relatively cohesive churchgoing society of low immigration and consensus politics. Conscription was still in place. 

The impulse toward national sacrifice had been imprinted on a generation of men and women who had met the call of duty and prevailed in World War II. 

Media outlets were few, and their voices were respected. National leaders debated events using a common set of facts.

None of these conditions apply to America today. Biden’s America is defined by political tribalism and raucous individualism. Mobilizing the public to meet a geostrategic challenge is likely to prove to be a tougher task than was the case 60 years ago.

Foreign policy challenges also are not at the forefront of national thought in the same way they were in the aftermath of World War II. 

During the Trump administration, scholars at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace conducted extensive fieldwork in Colorado, Nebraska and Ohio on American middle-class attitudes toward foreign policy. 

The authors included current National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and State Department Policy Planning Director Salman Ahmed. They concluded:

There is no evidence America’s middle class will rally behind efforts aimed at restoring U.S. primacy in a unipolar world, escalating a new Cold War with China or waging a cosmic struggle between the world’s democracies and authoritarian governments

In fact, these are all surefire recipes for further widening the disconnect between the foreign policy community and the vast majority of Americans beyond Washington, who are more concerned with proximate threats to their physical and economic security.

In other words, China may not serve as the ticket to political mobilization or bipartisan purpose that some hope for. 

In fact, such mobilization may not even prove necessary to advance elements of Biden’s agenda.

A recent poll by Data for Progress and Vox found that Americans support keeping the U.S. ahead in technological innovation regardless of the “China factor.” 

In the poll, respondents were divided into two groups. In the first, respondents were told that increasing public investment in science and technology would help in “maintaining our competitive edge over China.” 

In the second, they were told it would help in “maintaining our competitive edge over Europe.” 

In the end, support for the anti-China message was nearly indistinguishable from the anti-Europe one.

Second, Democrats and Republicans have different incentives for how the U.S.-China relationship is managed. 

As the party out of power, Republicans do not own the consequences of deteriorating U.S.-China relations and do not fear being blamed for a downturn in relations under Biden’s watch. 

If Republicans come to believe Biden is wedded to preserving China as a beachhead of bipartisanship, they could bid up their asking price for playing along. 

As Dan Slater noted, “If Republican bellicosity towards China quickens, Biden might feel pressure to keep pace.”

It also is worth keeping in mind that the Republican party presently is searching for its own unifying message for healing its internal divisions. 

As former NSC Senior Director for Asian Affairs during the George W. Bush administration Mike Green recently observed, 

“The one thing that Mitt Romney and, say, Ted Cruz definitely agree on is [that] China’s a problem… If you want to build a brand as a 2024 Republican candidate that you know will unify the party, it’s China.”

Already, resources are being mobilized for this purpose. A group of Republican consultants have launched a political organization, Stand Up to China, and have begun running messaging campaigns in states that will host early Republican primaries, such as Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. 

According to Axios, the campaign “suggests an effort to elevate an issue at the top of GOP voters’ minds in the 2024 race or leverage it on behalf of some yet-unknown candidate.”

Republicans such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell likely will be cautious about supporting legislation that creates an appearance of the Biden administration securing political wins on China. 

McConnell is on record stating that he is “100 percent focused” on blocking the Biden administration. 

Senator McConnell and others have clear memories of President Clinton grabbing traditional Republican wedge issues — welfare and crime — and using them to Clinton’s advantage. 

They likely will be motivated to prevent China issues from assuming a similar role to welfare and crime during the Clinton era.   

When Politics Trump Policy, The Costs Can Be High

Democrats would be wise not to overheat the political discourse on China. The Trump administration’s record on China offers a cautionary tale of the costs and consequences of having politics drive China policy. 

Trump ran for office in 2016 with a promise to be strong on China where others before him had been weak. 

Trump’s tariffs were sold domestically as a tool to compel Chinese capitulation to U.S. concerns about unfair trading practices. 

While Trump’s China tariffs fit the narrative from a political standpoint, they were a loser from the start from a policy perspective.

Unsurprisingly, Trump’s trade policy had little success in forcing desired changes in Beijing’s economic practices, 

but it did cause plenty of harm to the U.S.: losses to U.S. farmers requiring more than $28 billion in federal bailouts, the destruction of an estimated 245,000 jobs, an estimated $316 billion reduction in U.S. GDP and an increase of an estimated $1,277 per family in costs of consumer goods. 

As COVID-19 took over the national narrative in 2020, President Trump and members of his administration employed racially charged language to blame China for the pain many American households were experiencing.   

A key lesson of Trump’s politicization of China policy is that short-term expediency does not automatically align with long-term national interests. 

When America’s China policy is refracted through a political lens, there is pressure for policymakers to prioritize posturing for domestic audiences with inflated projections of strength, even when doing so undermines other foreign policy objectives. 

Compromises with China come to be viewed as appeasement. The trouble is, relations between great powers rarely lend themselves to one side outright prevailing over the other on any given issue. 

Major power relations involve frequent negotiation and action between proud actors with competing interests.

“The rise in anti-Asian racism causes America to lose some of the strength of one of its greatest comparative advantages — its ability to attract the best ideas and brightest minds to its shores.”

The politicization of China policy carries other negative potential side effects as well. One of them is racism. American history has confronted a pattern of rising nationalism and intensifying great power rivalry leading to surges in racism and erosion of civil liberties. 

From attacks on ethnic Germans during World War I to the internment of Japanese during World War II, Senator McCarthy’s anti-communist witch hunt at the onset of the Cold War, and anti-Muslim sentiment following September 11, there are more than enough data points to draw a trend line.

Frustratingly, that trend line already appears to have secured a new data point in 2020-2021. 

According to a recent report from California State University at San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, in 2020, anti-Asian hate crimes surged by 146% across 26 of the largest jurisdictions in the country. 

Anti-Asian hate crimes rose by more than by 130% in Boston and 830% in New York City. There were over 3,800 attacks reported on members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in 2020. 

The trend has intensified in the first quarter of 2021, with an additional 169% rise in attacks on Asian Americans. According to recent Pew polling, 81% of Asian Americans say they feel like violence against them is increasing.

In addition to the human toll on victims and their families, such events tear at the fabric of American society and tarnish America’s image on the world stage. 

They also cause America to relinquish one of its greatest comparative advantages — its ability to attract the best ideas and brightest minds to its shores.

Already, there have been declining numbers of international students studying in the U.S. In 2020, the United Kingdom for the first time overtook the U.S. as the top destination for Chinese students. 

The reduced inflow of foreign talent into the U.S. carries downside risks for America’s future competitiveness. 

Sixty percent of the most highly valued technology companies today were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants, including Google, eBay and Intel.

Politicizing China policy also could complicate America’s ability to coordinate with allies and partners on China. 

In their opening months, the Biden administration’s investment in strengthening cooperation with allies on China has been rewarded. 

There has been new momentum among the four “Quad countries” (Australia, Japan, India, the U.S.) in advancing a common agenda to address challenges facing the Indo-Pacific region. 

Washington also successfully synchronized rollout of sanctions on Chinese human rights abuses with Canada, the European Union and the U.K. Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Suga released a leaders’ communique that referenced their shared interests relating to Taiwan, the first such occasion in over five decades of Taiwan being featured in such a document.  

The more that domestic politics comes to drive decisions on China policy in the U.S., though, the more risk there is that alignment of policy with allies would shrink and differences with Beijing would become cast in ideological terms.

If American policy decisions on China come to be seen by allies as transactional outputs of domestic politics, or as an effort to undermine China’s stability, they will have less attraction to allies and will cause allies to view the U.S. as a less predictable and reliable partner. 

American allies and partners each have their own complicated relationships with Beijing. One common feature, though, is that a Cold War Manichean framing has zero purchase among them.

Lastly, the more American politicians treat China as a pinata for purposes of scoring domestic political points, the more likely Beijing is to respond in kind. 

Since assuming the presidency, Xi Jinping has demonstrated consistency in not taking a punch without throwing a counterpunch.

If restraints are removed, Beijing has a plethora of options of American pain points to exploit

from providing diplomatic or material support to America’s foes to increasing its use of incentives and disincentives to weaken America’s alliance bonds, conducting disruptive cyber operations, seeking to mobilize non-governmental groups who oppose the U.S. government or its policies, heightening pressure on U.S. companies operating in China, or harassing and detaining American citizens. 

Since such Chinese courses of action surely would invite American retaliation, they are not China’s plan. But they also are not beyond Beijing’s imagination, should relations deteriorate to the point of outright enmity.

To outpace China, the U.S. will need to renew its competitive capacity and build a better governed, better educated, more innovative, healthier and freer society. 

It is a fact of life that China will loom large over discussions about how the U.S. can best revive its competitive edge. 

Unlike as recently as the Obama administration, it no longer is possible or necessarily desirable to insulate China policy from politics. 

The political features of this complex relationship can help build domestic support for an ambitious foreign policy that demonstrates America’s unique capacity to do big things well on the world stage. This will be a balancing act, though. 

The degree of politicization of China policy will need to remain limited enough to preserve space for the Biden administration to reach decisions for sound strategic reasons.

The Biden administration seems to appreciate the need for striking a balance between policy and politics on its approach to China. 

Biden appears comfortable operating in a complex world that lacks black and white dividing lines between friend and foe. 

He recognizes that a globally hostile view of China could undermine his ability to achieve his priority objectives, such as progress on climate change, global economic recovery or enhancements to the world’s public health infrastructure.  

He and his team have been outspoken in condemning anti-Asian racism. They have halted use of racially inflammatory language by government spokespeople and led efforts to raise awareness of the national imperative of recognizing and halting discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. 

Similarly, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has made clear the limits to how the U.S. seeks to pursue competition with China, emphasizing that the U.S. does not seek a Cold War, but rather is focused on ensuring that the U.S. and other democracies are strong, resilient and meeting the needs of their people.

In addition to modeling responsible statecraft, the Biden administration likely also will need to urge its Congressional supporters and public validators to exercise similar discipline over “playing the China card” in domestic politics. 

If China policy is defined in purely political terms, it will alienate rather than attract allies. If the Biden administration or its Congressional supporters are seen as seeking partisan advantage on China policy, it also could complicate efforts to advance Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda.

Lastly, members of the media will need to confront hard decisions on how to report on public figures that trade in nativism and xenophobia. 

Such individuals should be regarded as partisan hacks and not presented as strategic thinkers. 

Through their words, such figures tarnish America’s global appeal, erode its social cohesion and diminish America’s domestic dynamism.

Ultimately, as I argued in my recent book, “Stronger: Adapting America’s China Strategy in an Age of Competitive Interdependence,” the scale of the China challenge can be incrementally useful in alerting the U.S. body politic to the importance of undertaking domestic renewal and rebuilding leadership on the world stage, but the project will ultimately need to be justified on its own terms. 

Any effort to lean on the external threat of China as a basis for overcoming domestic divisions at home is unlikely to succeed and likely to harm U.S. interests at home and abroad.

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09-NOV-2020 :: The Single biggest Issue remains how Biden engages with the Algorithmic Master [Blaster] and Sun Tzu Maestro
Law & Politics

''The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting''

Xi salami-sliced his way into a deeply forward position during the Obama Administration and in 2020 snaffled up Hong Kong, marched 400 kilometers into Indian Territory and the Straw Man Narendra Modi has not even uttered a word and Xi might even decide to roll over Taiwan

Xi did not even turn up for Trump's beloved Trade Deal and then proceeded to shred it and surely the apex of his achievement in 2020 was releasing a bio-engineered #COVID19 and spreading it around the World with the help of all the ''shameless pro-Party hacks who chirrup hosannahs at every turn''

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Risk of Taiwan Strait conflict ‘at all-time high’, Beijing-backed think tank says @SCMPNews
Law & Politics

Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have risen to the point where the risk of armed conflict is at “an all-time high”, according to a Beijing-backed think tank.

The China Cross-Strait Academy released a report on Wednesday on relations across the narrow stretch of water that separates mainland China from Taiwan. 

It said researchers had looked at factors including the two sides’ military strength, trade relations, public opinion, political events and support from allies, concluding that they were “on the brink of war”.

The think tank, based in Hong Kong, is newly founded and led by Lei Xiying, a committee member of the Communist Party-backed All-China Youth Federation.

Its conclusion was based on an index of the risk level of armed conflict across the strait, which the researchers put at 7.21 for 2021, on a scale of minus 10 to 10.

They also looked at the same factors dating back to the 1950s to come up with comparative risk indexes. 

They said in the early 1950s, when the anti-communist Nationalist forces had fled from the mainland to Taiwan, the index was lower than it is now, at 6.7.

It hovered above 6.5 for much of the 1970s but fell to 4.55 in 1978, when Washington established formal diplomatic relations with Beijing. 

The risk of conflict was also low in the 1990s, as the mainland embarked on economic reforms that drew investment from around the world, including Taiwan.

But the report said the index had been rising steadily since 2000, when the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party took power in Taiwan, ending the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang’s 55 years of rule.

It passed 6 again in 2018, with Donald Trump as US president taking an antagonistic approach to China and pursuing a closer relationship with Taiwan.

The United States, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but is its most important international backer and a major seller of arms to the democratic island

The Economist this month labelled the Taiwan Strait as “the most dangerous place on Earth” as it is Beijing’s most sensitive territorial issue and a major point of contention between China and the US

Beijing claims self-governing Taiwan as its own territory and has not renounced the use of force to bring it under mainland control. 

It has been angered by the warming ties between Washington and Taipei and is concerned Taipei’s administration could be emboldened to declare independence, a red line for Beijing.

Lei, who heads the new think tank, said the changing political dynamic across the Taiwan Strait and Washington’s closer relations with Taipei were two “destructive factors” driving up the risk of conflict.

“If the current trend continues … [Beijing’s] unification of Taiwan by force will only be a matter of time,” he said.

Lei said the researchers would continue to monitor the deepening of military ties between the US and Taiwan as it had a significant impact on the risk index.

However, Lim John Chuan-tiong, a former researcher at Taiwan’s Academia Sinica, disputed whether the current situation was worse than in the 1950s, when there was armed conflict between mainland China and Taiwan.

“But considering the explosive situation now, huge uncertainties and the stakes involved if anyone makes a wrong judgment or a wrong move, it is not wrong to say that the risk level across the Taiwan Strait is at an unprecedented high level,” Lim said.

“Beijing used to believe that as long as Sino-US relations are under control, Taiwan will not be a problem,” Lim said. 

“But … Sino-US relations took a nosedive under Trump and there are no signs of improvement now with the Joe Biden administration, which is relying more on allies like Taiwan to contain China.”

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War With China Over Taiwan Is Not A Fictional Worry @NoemaMag @stavridisj
Law & Politics

Think of Taiwan as a porcupine — it won’t defeat the dragon of China, but it could be very hard to digest. That might create real deterrence. 

Similarly, we should bluntly communicate to China that an armed invasion is unacceptable and would provoke a significant diplomatic, economic — and possible military — response by the U.S.

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Xi Jinping is both Sun Tzu ‘'The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting'' And hard edged at the same time.
Law & Politics

He has brought Hong Kong to heel, he is prowling around Taiwan like a Lion prowled around our Tent one night in the Tsavo.

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#China refusing to take call from US defense secretary #LloydAustin (@SecDef) who has made 3 requests. @Dimi
Law & Politics

General Mark Milley, chairman of joint chiefs, has also not spoken to his Chinese counterpart since @JoeBiden took office

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Beijing rebuffs Pentagon requests for high-level military talks @FT.
Law & Politics

Beijing has rebuffed the Pentagon’s requests for talks between China’s top officer and the new US defence secretary, complicating bilateral relations at a time of heightened tensions between the world’s two most powerful militaries.

Lloyd Austin, US defence secretary, has made three requests to speak to General Xu Qiliang, vice-chair of the Central Military Commission and a politburo member who is China’s most senior military officer. But China has refused to engage, according to three people briefed on the impasse.

US officials have said that they do not want to hold high-level meetings with China just for the sake of it, particularly after the countries’ top foreign policy officials engaged in a public diplomatic spat in Alaska in March.

But the Biden administration thinks it is important for Austin to talk to Xu because of the rising tensions in the Indopacific

The two militaries are increasingly coming into closer contact, particularly in the South China Sea as the Chinese navy and air force conduct aggressive activity near Taiwan.

“The Chinese military has not been responsive,” a US defence official told the Financial Times about the requests for a call between Austin and Xu.

In addition to the stand-off over Austin’s request, General Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, has not talked to his counterpart since early January before Joe Biden was sworn in, according to a second official.

Since Biden has taken office, the countries have sparred over everything from the repression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang to China’s military activity around Taiwan. China has attacked the US as an imperial power.

China flew a record number of fighters and bombers into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone in March, hours after a US official told the FT that President Xi Jinping was flirting with trying to seize Taiwan. 

While some experts think the threat is less severe, many view Taiwan as a dangerous hotspot.

Earlier this year, Chinese warplanes simulated missile attacks on the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier near Taiwan. 

China has also been assertive around the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea that are administered by Japan but claimed by Beijing.

Austin had planned to travel to Singapore in June for the Shangri-La defence forum, which Chinese defence minister Wei Fenghe was expected to attend. 

The event was cancelled this week over Covid-19 concerns.

The US defence official said there had been discussion about a meeting with Wei in Singapore. 

But he said Austin, the fourth-ranking US cabinet member, opted against a meeting in favour of pushing for a call with Xu, who outranks Wei in the Chinese political and military system.

“We believe the appropriate counterpart is the vice-chair of the Central Military Commission,” the US official said.

Jim Mattis met Xu in Beijing in 2018 when he was defence secretary under President Donald Trump. 

But China almost always offers up its defence minister instead. 

This has increasingly frustrated the US because he has little power in the Chinese system and does not serve on the 25-member politburo that rules China.

The White House is split over how Austin should handle the situation. Some National Security Council officials are opposed to Austin dealing with Wei. 

Another group are less resistant, but want Austin to use any meeting or call to tell Wei that he would only hold talks with the CMC vice-chair.

The NSC declined to comment. The first defence official confirmed that there had been divisions, but declined to provide any details. The Chinese embassy in Washington did not response to a request for comment.

Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the German Marshall Fund, said it was important for the Pentagon to be able to engage with real military decision makers, and pointed out that the CMC exercises command authority over the PLA.

“To address growing US concerns about China’s military operations and risk reduction measures to avoid collisions between US and Chinese forces that are operating in close proximity, the focus should be on the CMC,” she said.

While some officials and experts said Austin should insist on talking to Xu, others said it was important that the US open a line of communication with the Chinese military even if Beijing continued to stonewall over arranging a call with the CMC vice-chair.

Heino Klinck, a former Pentagon Asia official who spent years as a defence attaché in China, said it had always been challenging agreeing protocol for meetings with China due to the different structures of the two militaries.

“Given the situation with Taiwan and other issues such as the East China Sea and South China Sea, as well as attempted Chinese coercion of our key allies and partners such as Australia, it is important to have clear communication,” Klinck said.

“We need to be conveying to the Chinese what our own red lines are because they convey theirs.”

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“Unity is iron and steel; unity is a source of strength,”
Law & Politics

“Complete reunification of the motherland is an inevitable trend..no one and no force can ever stop it!” 

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Why is the universe so uncannily, so eerily, so terribly quiet? Because in the dark forest, anything that makes a sound gets eaten.

The alien researcher on the other side of the communication warns her that its society is utterly twisted and that she must never make contact again, lest they invade Earth:

Do not answer!

Do not answer!!

Do not answer!!!

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"The Dark Forest," which continues the story of the invasion of Earth by the ruthless and technologically superior Trisolarans, introduces Liu’s three axioms of “cosmic sociology.” @nfergus

First, “Survival is the primary need of civilization.” 

Second, “Civilization continuously grows and expands, but the total matter in the universe remains constant.” 

Third, “chains of suspicion” and the risk of a “technological explosion” in another civilization mean that in space there can only be the law of the jungle. 

In the words of the book’s hero, Luo Ji:

The universe is a dark forest. Every civilization is an armed hunter stalking through the trees like a ghost ... trying to tread without sound ... 

The hunter has to be careful, because everywhere in the forest are stealthy hunters like him. 

If he finds other life — another hunter, an angel or a demon, a delicate infant or a tottering old man, a fairy or a demigod — 

there’s only one thing he can do: open fire and eliminate them. In this forest, hell is other people ... any life that exposes its own existence will be swiftly wiped out.

This is intergalactic Darwinism.

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Countries w/ high COVID-19 avg 2wk increase cases/day @jmlukens

Maldives: 124%

Thailand: 97%

Trinidad and Tobago: 88%

Dominican Republic: 84%

South Africa: 75%

Bahrain: 55%

Malaysia: 54%

Sri Lanka: 53%

Bolivia: 51%

Argentina: 51%

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Britain's COVID-19 cases up 10.5% in past week @Reuters

Britain reported 2,694 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, government data showed, meaning there were 17,410 new cases between May 16 and May 22, a rise of 10.5% compared with the previous seven days.

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In summary, 50% of all our sequences are B.1.617.2. It's been growing 2x faster than B117, and is likely dominant in many parts of England. @dgurdasani1

If you want to see what the data show- please read this thread. But in summary, 50% of all our sequences are B.1.617.2. It's been growing 2x faster than B117, and is likely dominant in many parts of England. And has is 50% more likely to infect contacts.

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- the data on vaccines also painted a less rosy picture than the reporting by FT appeared to suggest. @dgurdasani1

-disaggreated data suggested post-1 dose efficacy of ~33% for both vaccines & post-2 doses 60% for Astra and 80% for Pfizer.

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Watching Andrew Marr on BBC1 saying everything is great and the vaccines will protect us against 'Indian variant' and everything is on course to open fully June 21st. This is a travesty of the data in the PHE report @globalhlthtwit

Watching Andrew Marr on BBC1 saying everything is great and the vaccines will protect us against 'Indian variant' and everything is on course to open fully June 21st. This is a travesty of the data in the PHE report sneaked out late last night with a misleading press release.

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.@Dominic2306 incoming testimony has thrown a curve ball at @10DowningStreet and they are letting hard won gains slip through their fingers and we know this one is the most exponential of them all @dgurdasani1

.@Dominic2306 incoming testimony has thrown a curve ball at  @10DowningStreet  and given what we know they are letting hard won gains slip through their fingers and we know this one is the most exponential of them all  @dgurdasani1

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‘You’re a mutant virus, I’m the immune system and it’s my job to expel you from the organism.’ OCTOBER 30, 2014 BY DOMINIC CUMMINGS The Hollow Men II

1. Complexity makes prediction hard. Our world is based on extremely complex, nonlinear, interdependent networks (physical, mental, social). 

Properties emerge from feedback between vast numbers of interactions: for example, the war of ant colonies, the immune system’s defences, market prices, and abstract thoughts all emerge from the interaction of millions of individual agents. Interdependence, feedback, and nonlinearity mean that systems are fragile and vulnerable to nonlinear shocks: 

‘big things come from small beginnings’ and problems cascade, ‘they come not single spies / But in battalions’. 

Prediction is extremely hard even for small timescales. Effective action and (even loose) control are very hard and most endeavours fail.

Blofeld: Kronsteen, you are sure this plan is foolproof?

Kronsteen: Yes it is, because I have anticipated every possible variation of counter-move.

Politics therefore suffers from a surfeit of narcissists.

The occupants of No10, like Tolstoy’s characters in War and Peace, are blown around by forces they do not comprehend as they gossip, intrigue, and babble to the media. 

The MPs and spin doctors steer their priorities according to the rapidly shifting sands of the pundits who they are all spinning, while the pundits shift (to some extent unconsciously) according to the polls. 

The outcome? Everybody rushes around in tailspins assembling circular firing squads while the real dynamics of opinion play out largely untouched by their conscious actions. 

In terms of a method to ‘manage’ government, it is not far from tribal elders howling incantations around the camp fire after inspecting the entrails of slaughtered animals. 

It makes no sense because it is not based on the real world. Because of this systemic dysfunction, the rest of us get repeatedly ‘Macked’.

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Reversão das internações Covid em Manaus ? @B_Nelson_Manaus

Com correção por atraso de notificação, o grupo MAVE/Fiocruz estima provável reversão de internações Covid em Manaus nas epi-semanas 18 e 19, que terminaram 08 e 15 de maio, respectivamente. 

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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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.@NobelPrize Winner French Virologist Luc Montagnier Explains How COVID-19 Vaccines Are Creating Variants @GreatGameIndia

Nobel Prize winner French Virologist Prof. Luc Montagnier in an interview has made a starting claim that the COVID-19 vaccines itself are creating variants. 

He said that epidemiologists know but are “silent” about the phenomenon, known as “Antibody-Dependent Enhancement” (ADE).

While it is understood that viruses mutate, causing variants, Luc Montagnier contends that “it is the vaccination that is creating the variants.”

The 2008 Nobel Laureate made the explosive comments as part of a larger interview (watch below) with Pierre Barnérias of the French Hold-Up Media earlier this month.

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Pfizer: '...of all time...'. @_HassanF


The Vaccine Economy 

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Circulating SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Antigen Detected in the Plasma of mRNA-1273

Nonetheless, evidence of systemic detection of spike and S1 protein production from the mRNA-1273 vaccine is significant and has not yet been described in any vaccine study, likely due to limitations in assay sensitivity and timing assessment. 

The clinical relevance of this finding is unknown and should be further explored. 

These data show that S1 antigen production after the initial vaccination can be detected by day one and is present beyond the site of injection and the associated regional lymph nodes

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.2187

Dollar Index 90.029

Japan Yen 108.78

Swiss Franc 0.8976

Pound 1.4151

Aussie 0.7738

India Rupee 72.9055

South Korea Won 1126.525

Brazil Real 5.3631

Egypt Pound 15.6518

South Africa Rand 13.9479

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As I write this on the 3rd of January 2021 $BTC has touched 35,000.00 in a parabolic shift higher
World Currencies


Markets when they retreat always fall much much further than expectations.

I recall Russian Prins falling from 60+ to 6.

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It was the second wave that killed the dip buyers the most @sunchartist
World Of Finance

Crypto Dip being bought is not much different from the Asian financial crisis (central govt raising rates to protect currency)  and the pre-GFC selloff (the entire subprime was $600 bln small in the scheme of things)

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The pain level for Bitcoin is probably below 24,000, where Microstrategy bought mostly by issuing CB'S & Debt. @sunchartist
World Currencies

A public listed company will find it hard to finesse the MTM passthrough from its P&L & fiduciary role of directors and responsible officers

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$BTC Bitcoin’s Claim of Rivaling Gold as Portfolio Hedge Loses Luster @markets @crypto
World Currencies

Bitcoin’s 60-day realized volatility is far higher than that of gold
 and currently pulling away. 

The token tumbled 31% on Wednesday before rising by about the same percentage that day. For the week, it’s down some 10%

Gold, meanwhile, is heading for a third weekly gain, bolstered by a weaker dollar and wavering Treasury yields, which boost the allure of non-interest-bearing bullion. 

It’s also benefiting from the crypto crash, according to Brian Lan, managing director of Singapore-based dealer GoldSilver Central Pte.

For some commentators, Bitcoin is still evolving as an asset, making a rush to judgment premature. 

Its capped supply -- at 21 million tokens -- is among the features it shares with bullion, said David Lightfoot, chief executive officer of Sydney-based xbullion, a precious metal tokenization platform.

Bitcoin is still “finding its value” as a revolutionary new asset class, and similar volatility was seen after the discovery of oil as the world began to understand its impact and future worth, he said.

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It was in 30-DEC-2016 :: [I wrote] My Optimal Portfolio at this moment looks like this 1. Long BITCOIN. 2. Long BITCOIN short Gold on a Spread
World Of Finance

I never imagined the Trend would run over 4 years. It has now reversed and tis reversal is going to get violent 

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27 NOV 17 :: "Wow! What a Ride!"
World Of Finance

The parabola was described thus by Thomas Pynchon,

“But it is a curve each of them feels, unmistakably.It's The Parabola. They must have guessed, once or twice -guessed and refused to believe- that everything, always, collectively, had been moving toward that purified shape latent in the sky, that shape of no surprise, no second chance, no return.’’

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, therefore, I am now sidelined.

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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Frontier Debt Shines as Unlikely Haven in World of Rising Rates @markets
Frontier Markets

As the hunt for investments that can withstand rising interest rates gathers pace, frontier assets are gaining popularity over their larger emerging-market peers.

The bonds of the world’s least-developed economies have returned 2.6% this year, keeping pace with their 2020 performance, while higher-ranked emerging-market debt has lost almost 2%, reversing some of last year’s 5.3% advance, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. indexes.

With speculation growing that the world’s post-pandemic economic recovery is fueling inflation, the bonds of smaller developing nations are luring buyers as their securities tend to be of shorter duration -- meaning they are less sensitive to expectations for interest-rate increases. 

The average duration of frontier-market sovereign bonds is six years, compared with 7.9 years for traditional emerging markets, JPMorgan indexes show.

“People are still worried interest rates have to rise and they are looking for yield and interest-rate duration,” said Leo Hu, who co-manages the $7 billion Emerging Markets Debt Hard Currency Fund at NN Investment Partners in Singapore. 

Frontier bonds may return at least 9% in the next 12 months, he said.

The burgeoning interest in frontier assets nonetheless represents a threat to the global economy as central banks move back into policy-tightening mode. 

Less developed nations, such as those in Africa, present a higher chance of default than their larger emerging-market peers. 

And the more funds they attract, the greater the threat of potential contagion should rising borrowing costs hamper economic growth.

Into Africa

In terms of geography, money managers who specialize in frontier assets are almost united in favoring Africa, saying the region will benefit the most from rising raw material prices. 

These include Angola, Ghana and Zambia -- even though the latter became the first African country in the Covid-19 era to default when it skipped a Eurobond payment last year.

Zambia has benefited as copper has risen to record highs, with demand bolstered by the global recovery and the transition toward green energy. The metal accounts for almost 80% of Zambia’s export earnings. 

The nation’s dollar debt has returned 24% this year amid prospects of an International Monetary Fund bailout, second only to Ecuador among the roughly 75 emerging markets tracked by Bloomberg Barclays indexes.

Angola, Africa’s second-biggest oil producer, is another favorite. A slide in crude prices last year triggered by the pandemic led the country to seek $6.2 billion of relief from its major creditors, easing fears of a default in one of the continent’s most-indebted countries. 

Angola’s bonds have returned 12% this year, according to a Bloomberg Barclays index.

African bonds also stand out from their peers in terms of yields. Ghana’s 2025 securities currently yield 6.3%, while similar-maturity Angolan debt yields 7%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. 

That stands in contrast to traditional emerging markets. The 10-year bonds of Indonesia yield just 2.4%. Mexico’s yield 3.1%.

“We have been allocating more to frontier sovereign credits,” said Jens Nystedt, a fund manager in New York at Emso Asset Management, a specialist on fixed-income investments in emerging markets overseeing $6.8 billion. 

“In particular, we like the outlook for Nigeria, Ghana and Angola given that they would be some of the main beneficiaries from higher oil prices.”

Bailout Program

Sentiment toward frontier markets was also boosted this year after the International Monetary Fund announced a plan to create $650 billion in additional reserve assets to help developing economies cope with the pandemic.

IMF support has been crucial for the likes of Pakistan, which raised $2.5 billion in March after the resumption of a $6 billion bailout program. 

Ecuador’s new government plans to reach a deal with the IMF to ensure financial stability and unlock some of the funds related to the $6.5 billion financing agreement reached last year.

Frontier-nation bonds offer higher yields for a reason -- they are judged to have a higher chance of default. But many fund managers aren’t deterred.

“There are quite some risks, such as the worsening of the pandemic or too much stimulus, but we stick with the rosier scenario for frontier markets,” said Edgardo Sternberg, co-manager for emerging-markets debt portfolios in Boston at Loomis Sayles & Co., which oversees $3.5 billion of developing-nation bonds. 

“Frontier markets should continue to outperform,” he said.

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Between Lil Déby and Big-Boy Yoweri, there sure is an awful lot of tear gas floating about the playground. @mailandguardian @thecontinent_ @samirasawlani

A bunch of kid bosses have been in Paris this week at a shindig hosted by Le Biscuit himself, France’s President Emmanuel Macron. 

That’s a lot of extra pocket-money. Just one question: Who’s the daddy, in this scenario?

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Egypt to conduct a large-scale military exercise with Sudan, named as "#Nile Protectors" @mahmouedgamal44

The #Egyptian army troops participating in the Exercise have arrived at #Khartoum Air Base, in conjunction with transporting the military equipment by sea to Port #Sudan.


The Message is loud and clear. With the ENDF stretched these ''Nile Protectors'' could roll into Addis in short order? 

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The rate of Egyptian military drills with Sudan is unprecedented. It has never happened with any other country before, to conduct every 2-3 months joint large-scale military drills @mahmouedgamal44

The rate of Egyptian military drills with Sudan is unprecedented. It has never happened with any other country before, to conduct every 2-3 months joint large-scale military drills, and it's noticeable that all these joint drills are being conducted in Sudan only.

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Biden Administration Plans Visa Restrictions on Ethiopian Officials Over Tigray @ForeignPolicy

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is planning to target Ethiopian and Eritrean officials with visa restrictions in an opening diplomatic salvo against Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government 
over atrocities committed in the country’s Tigray conflict, U.S. officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter tell Foreign Policy.

The visa restrictions represent a potential turning point in U.S.-Ethiopian relations, which have steadily soured since a conflict erupted in the northern Tigray region of the country last November. 

The conflict has sparked widespread reports of atrocities, possible mass violence along ethnic lines, and war crimes committed against civilian populations by forces in Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea.

The Biden administration has grown increasingly frustrated with Abiy’s response to the crisis after months of high-level diplomatic talks. 

The conflict began in November of last year when Ethiopian federal forces launched an offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the country’s former ruling party, in response to a TPLF attack on an Ethiopian military base.

The Ethiopian government has dismissed criticism of its handling of the crisis and insisted soldiers who commit atrocities will be held to account. The United Nations has said that all sides in the conflict may have committed war crimes.

The visa restrictions are seen as a shot across the bow, signaling mounting U.S. frustrations with Abiy for his handling of the conflict and failure to address mounting international concerns over the ensuing humanitarian crisis. 

Officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter said the Biden administration plans to further ratchet up pressure on Abiy in other ways, including upholding a halt on U.S. security assistance funding to Ethiopia and targeting World Bank and International Monetary Fund programs in the country. 

Officials said there are ongoing discussions about possibly leveling sanctions against Ethiopian or Eritrean officials complicit in Tigray atrocities, but no final decisions have been made.

The United States has long viewed Ethiopia as a critical partner in East Africa, but the visa sanctions could be the first sign of a strategic pivot away from Addis Ababa, said Cameron Hudson, a former U.S. diplomat and intelligence official now at the Atlantic Council.

“This is a major strategic shift in the Horn of Africa, to go from an anchor state for U.S. interests to become a potential adversary to U.S. interests,” Hudson said

“That’s a strategic shift that we have not wanted to make, and that’s what recent U.S. diplomacy has been doing, to try and salvage something that is no longer salvageable.”

The expected U.S. announcement on visa restrictions comes ahead of pivotal elections in Ethiopia, set to be held on June 21 and seen as a major test of whether Abiy’s democratic reforms in the country will take root.

Feltman previously told Foreign Policy that if the conflict spirals into other parts of the country, it could make Syria’s civil war look like “child’s play” in comparison.

“The escalation ladder needs to jump multiple rungs,” said one congressional aide, speaking on condition of anonymity. 

“What we need to do is, we need to move faster. People continue to die, rapes and other atrocities continue to happen, and there needs to be an acceleration at a much faster rate here.”


Its clear Prime Minister has no Agency in Tigray Province now.

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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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Zimbabwe’s Biggest Bank to List on Victoria Falls Stock Exchange @markets

CBZ Holdings Ltd., the biggest bank in Zimbabwe, plans to list on the U.S. dollar-denominated stock exchange in Victoria Falls, as part of efforts to ignite foreign interest in the lender.

The firm is “actively exploring” a listing, which could address concerns for foreign investors of having funds stuck in the country, Chief Executive Officer Blessing Mudavanhu said in an interview at the lender’s headquarters in Harare on Friday.

The lender is currently only listed on the main exchange in Harare. CBZ Chairman Marc Holtzman, a 30-year banking veteran who has worked at Barclays Plc and ABN Amro Bank NV, said the Victoria Falls listing will take place this year.

“If the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange does everything we believe and think it can do, there’ll be no need to list dually,” Holtzman said during the interview.

A listing on the so-called “VFEX” will also provide the lender with an avenue to also explore growth opportunities, particularly within the southern African region.

“We still have a huge appetite for the local market, however we cannot rule out expansion outside of Zimbabwe when the opportunity arises,” said Holtzman.

CBZ has signed on to two U.S.-based correspondent banking relationships since the U.S. Treasury Department cleared the lender of a $385 million penalty for processing transactions on behalf of ZB Bank Ltd., which was then under American sanctions.

“This has improved our operations significantly,” Holtzman said.

The lender on Friday reported that full-year 2020 profit jumped more than sixfold to Z$6.15 billion, from Z$920 million in 2019.

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President promises to make Democratic Rep. Congo "the world capital of strategic minerals" @TheCitizenTZ H/T @lajohnstondr

Kinshasa. President Felix Tshisekedi has announced that he wants to renegotiate DR Congo's mining contracts, reportedly including those with China, lamenting that the Congolese are still "languishing in misery" despite vast mineral resources.

The large central African country is a major exporter of copper, uranium and cobalt -- a key ingredient in batteries for consumer gadgets -- but remains one of the world's poorest states.

Visiting the southern mining town of Kolwezi on Thursday, Tshisekedi made comments that local media predicted could spark a stand-off with China over deals sealed under his predecessor.

"It's not normal that those with whom the country has signed mining contracts get richer while our population remains poor," Tshisekedi told thousands of residents in the city centre.

"It is time for the country to readjust its contracts with miners to seal win-win partnerships," he said.

"I have really had enough! I am very severe with these investors who come to enrich themselves alone. They come with empty pockets and leave billionaires.

"It is also our fault. Some of our compatriots badly negotiated the mining contract. Worse, the little which returns to the state, they put in their own pockets," he added, referring to corruption that has plagued the nation.

He promised to make the Democratic Republic of Congo "the world capital of strategic minerals".

The day before he had arrived in Lubumbashi, capital of Haut-Katanga province and heart of the country's mining region, saying that  investors who "stole from us" were "getting richer and richer" while the Congolese "continue to languish in misery".

Around 40 mining companies operate in Katanga -- around 30 of them are Chinese or predominantly Chinese.

The newspaper Le Potentiel said there was no doubt the president's remarks were targeted at the Chinese firms, predicting that he had begun "a standoff with China" over contracts signed by his predecessor Joseph Kabila, who ruled for nearly two decades after taking over from his father.

Elected in 2018, Tshisekedi broke free from a coalition with Kabila's camp late last year.

The DR Congo, "once a major ally" of China, "has now moved closer to the United States," the newspaper said.

A source in the presidency who did not want to be named said "there is no anti-Chinese plan".

"We are not in the optics of a stand-off with our partners," the source said.

"This concerns all mining companies, but the fact is that today China has a dominant place in the sector," he added.

"We can expect discussions with all the miners in the coming months."

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Welcome to Khartoum @mailandguardian @thecontinent_ Elzahraa Jadallah

Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, is a combination of three cities linked by bridges – Khartoum, Khartoum North (Bahri), and Omdurman – and each has its own flavour.

The City of Khartoum is modern and vivid, but also manages to give new context to the past at its museums (the National Museum (1) and Republican Palace Museum), and in the colonial-era buildings that are now home to the University of Khartoum

My recommendation is the Acropole hotel downtown: good location, great vibe and excellent price.

Khartoum North or Bahri is the place to settle if you are planning a long stay, it's calm and affordable, and just like Khartoum, all services and necessities are just around the corner.

One of the must-have experiences is going to Mugran, where the White and Blue Niles join for a long kiss on their journey up north, then visiting Tuti Island to enjoy sandy beaches and stroll past the farms along the river.

If you are looking for an unforgettable experience and a taste of the city’s nightlife, Nile Street in Khartoum is for you, and there is much there to see and do. 

Dining by the river or even on the Nile itself onboard one of the floating restaurants, enjoying hot drinks from the local tea-sellers along Nile Street, or taking a boat trip at your leisure.

The second, and biggest city in the capital is Omdurman, on the west side, across the bridge from Khartoum city. 

Most of the historical sites in Khartoum are here, such as the Mahadia sites where you can travel in history and revisit one of the most interesting eras in Sudan’s past.

Without doubt, you should visit the Museum of Khalifa’s House; the Tomb of Muhammad Ahmed (Mahdi) “The Tabia”; Omdurman’s old gate; and Mawrada local fish market (then have a seafood meal near Parliament).

Come any time of the year, although you might want to forgo Sudan's summer between March and June, if only because it can get a little too hot

Also recommended: Marshall Nature Reserve (for birds and fish) in the middle of Khartoum; Al- Housh Restaurant in Omdurman (for a traditional meal with a view of the Nile), and the Blue Nile Sailing Club (3) in Khartoum, where a wonderful experience on the Nile awaits.

Lastly, do not forget to sample the water of the Nile itself, because as the saying goes: “When you drink from the Nile, you always come back!”

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#SaveBlackJohnsonBeach @mailandguardian @thecontinent_

Black Johnson, a small coastal town in the Western Area Peninsula of Freetown in Sierra Leone, is a rare surviving ecotourism destination. 

Forested mountains rise up in the background. Crystal clear water splashes on black rocks before sweeping across golden sand. It’s quiet.

Plans are afoot to turn more than 100 hectares of forest and beach, here, into a commercial fishing hub.

In a one-page press release, Sierra Leone’s ministry of fisheries and marine resources said the proposed harbour would allow tuna vessels and other big fish vessels to anchor, and increase Sierra Leone’s export capacity.

 “If the government officials have taken money from the Chinese people to sell this place, then they better find a way to pay them back or better still find another spot – but not this one,” he warns.

He points to the government’s lack of information about any feasibility studies as a clear indicator of the problems with the proposed harbour.

Two human rights groups – the Institute for Legal and Advocacy for Justice, and Namati Sierra Leone – are demanding that the government release the environmental and social-impact assessment studies it purportedly conducted, along with the report that concluded Black Johnson was the most suitable place for the proposed project. 

The groups are also requesting, through the Right to Access Information Act of 2013, a copy of the grant agreement between China and Sierra Leone.

“It would destroy pristine rainforest, plunder fish stocks, pollute the marine environment and five individual ecosystems that are fish breeding grounds and support endangered bird and wildlife species” their open letter said.

But the minister of fisheries wants people to show patience. “If we want to be counted as a developing country,” she said, “then we must be willing to sacrifice.”

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Tito Gbandewa: ‘If they do this here, the water will be dirty, there will be a lot of oil and noise, the trawlers will be all around.’ #SaveBlackJohnsonBeach

The gold and black sands of Black Johnson beach fringe the African nation’s Western Area Peninsula national park, home to endangered species including the duiker antelope and pangolins. 

The waters are rich in sardines, barracuda and grouper, caught by local fishermen who produce 70% of the fish for the domestic market.

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The Livingstonia Escarpment David Bone was born in Livingstonia and later worked in Zomba.

David Bone who was born in Livingstonia and later worked in Zomba. 

David is now joint editor of the Society of Malawi Journal and has kindly shared his vast knowledge of Livingstonia below.

When pioneer Scottish Missionary Robert Laws was looking for a healthy location for the new headquarters of the Livingstonia Mission, he chose a remote plateau 3,000 feet above the lake in Northern Malawi.  

The main challenge of this location was how to make it accessible.  His answer was to construct what might well be the most amazing escarpment in Central Africa.  

The way he had made, from Livingstonia to Chitimba on the lakeshore, was officially named the Longmuir Road, in honour of the lady from Aberdeen who was its sponsor.  

It was designed by the mission’s own surveyor Francis Hardie, the escarpment section of it was named after a mission builder James Gauld to whom it owes its local name, Gorodi.

Completed in 1905 through the use of hand tools, and some dynamite, the escarpment was dug out of the edge of the Rift Valley, descending a precipitous 2,000 feet in just over three miles with 22 hairpin bends, some of them so sharp that they required a three point turn, even in a small vehicle.   

Though it has had a few minor improvements, the road now is still very much as it was those 115 years ago,  untarred and requiring a well maintained vehicle with a reasonable clearance.

Passengers can enjoy the spectacular views of the escarpment itself, and the changing perspectives of Mount Waller, Lion Point, Chitimba Bay and the Livingstone Mountains in Tanzania across the lake as they descend.  

The person behind the wheel though would be well advised to give their full attention to the road if their vehicles are not to join those, still very visible, whose drivers were overconfident or whose brakes failed.

Until the 1970s the Livingstonia escarpment was the route for traffic to the northern end of the lake.   

Since then it has been possible to avoid its challenge by taking the one at Chiweta.  

Spectacularly beautiful as this corniche road is, choosing this route gives no more than a distant glimpse of Livingstonia itself and no chance of visiting the  ‘must see’  Manchewe Falls.   

Neither does this choice carry with it the kudos of being able to say,  ‘I’ve done’, or even better, ‘I’ve driven the Livingstonia Escarpment’.

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.@VodafoneGroup Consortium Submits $850-Million Bid for Ethiopia Permit @technology

A Vodafone Group Plc consortium and MTN Group Ltd. submitted bids for permits to operate in Ethiopia that were much less than what was sought by the government of Africa’s second-most populous nation, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Vodafone’s consortium, which includes Safaricom Plc of Kenya and the U.K. carrier’s South African unit Vodacom Group Ltd., submitted a bid of $850 million, according to the people who declined to be identified because the results are not yet public. 

MTN, which is in a partnership with The Silk Road Fund of China, offered $600 million, according to the people.

The government is now weighing a decision to accept one or both of the bids, or cancel the process and restart, according to the people. 

An announcement on the matter will be made in days, they said.

“We think we have received strong offers,” Balcha Reba, Ethiopian Communication Authority’s director general, said ina televised presentation on Thursday. 

“However, there was a 29.4% difference between the highest and second highest offers,” he said, adding that government will decide to either cancel the process and restart or award one or both licenses.

The government has been in a long bidding process for the licenses and is set to sell part of government-owned monopoly Ethiopian Telecommunication Corp. as part of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s plan to open up Ethiopia’s state-dominated economy to more foreign capital.

Investors coveted Ethiopia, with 110 million people and one of the last remaining large telecommunication markets in the world. 

But their enthusiasm was curbed by the authorities’ temporary exclusion of the provision of the lucrative mobile money or financial-technology services from the licenses. 

That decision may have made the licenses about $500 million less valuable, according to the government.

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#Ethiopia has awarded a new telecommunication license to a consortium including the U.K.’s Vodafone Group Plc @business via mbuguanjihia

The government also called off the sale of a second new permit, but will invite fresh bids from international wireless carriers after some policy adjustments, according to Brook Taye, a senior adviser at the Ministry of Finance.

The winners -- Vodafone, Vodacom Group Ltd., in which the British carrier has a majority stake, and Nairobi-based Safaricom Ltd. -- will invest $8.5 billion in their network during the coming 10 years, including the license fee, he said from the capital, Addis Ababa.

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The pandemic hit Kenya’s economy hard, now a harsh new health crisis awaits @mailandguardian @thecontinent_ Scovian Lillian
Kenyan Economy

Though the health costs of Covid-19 are well known, the economic cost of the pandemic has received less attention. 

Instead, many have suggested that the pandemic has been “kind” to Africa due to much lower death rates than Europe and North America. 

But a report by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) on the impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable individuals and groups shows that this is a myth, and that for many the economic cost has been brutal.

The KNCHR survey – which included 2,430 interviews with members of vulnerable groups such as youth, women and the urban and rural poor in 31 of Kenya’s 47 counties – reveals that while 80% of respondents were employed before March 2020, only 34% now have a job. 

This suggests that a remarkable 46% of those consulted lost their jobs because of the economic disruption wrought by the pandemic

Partly as a result, 38% of respondents had been evicted from their homes since March 2020 as they were unable to pay rent. 

Nine out of 10 said that their landlords had not offered them any kind of reduction in rent.

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Constructed by China Communications Construction Company, port in Lamu is part of Kenya’s strategy to wrestle control of transshipping industry from powerhouses like Djibouti, Salalah in Yemen and Durban @mailandguardian @thecontinent_
Kenyan Economy

Transshipping involves unloading goods from one ship and loading it onto another to complete a journey onwards. 

The depth of the port is an advantage. At 17.5 metres, it is bigger than the 15m-deep port of Mombasa and this will allow larger ships to dock in Lamu.

“This port is going to be a game- changer in the region, it will play a key role in handling the cargo that are destined to other countries, directly competing with the port of Durban in South Africa,” Rashid Salim, acting managing director at the port, told Kenya’s Business Daily newspaper.

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African ports import more than they export, running a trade imbalance, vessels end up returning to busy ports, like those in China, empty @mailandguardian @thecontinent_

The Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents’ Muhammed Mojeed told that country’s The Guardian in May that shipments that would previously cost $4,000 to bring in, now cost as much as $14,000. 

Speaking to Kenya’s The Star in April, the Shippers Council of Eastern Africa said a 40-foot container had gone from $1,400 to $4,000. In South Africa’s Durban port, the price has tripled.

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

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