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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Wednesday 02nd of June 2021

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New from @NASAPersevere / Sol 96 @_TheSeaning

I have been immersing myself in the wonderful Margaret Atwood

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My “gateway drug” to Atwood was The Year of the Flood

So, then, the novel begins in Year 25, the Year of the Flood, without explanation of what era it is the 25th year of, and for a while without explanation of the word "Flood". 

We will gather that it was a Dry Flood, and that the term refers to the extinction of - apparently - all but a very few members of the human species by a nameless epidemic.

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For years, Margaret Atwood resisted the notion of writing a sequel to her feminist classic The Handmaid’s Tale. She first began considering the possibility after 9/11, when, as Atwood told The Current, the political climate radically changed. 

“Instead of going away from Gilead, we turned around and started coming back toward Gilead,” she said

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In chaos theory, they say the infinitesimal flapping of a butterfly's wings can hypothetically cascade into a fierce tornado @Rainmaker1973

Scientists have actually demonstrated how some of the smallest creatures can generate surprisingly huge, intense ocean currents 

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“No matter how the official narrative of this turns out," it seemed to Heidi

Thomas Pynchon in Bleeding Edge “No matter how the official narrative of this turns out," it seemed to Heidi, "these are the places we should be looking, not in newspapers or television but at the margins, graffiti, uncontrolled utterances, bad dreamers who sleep in public and scream in their sleep.”

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― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow

“I dream that I have found us both again,
With spring so many strangers' lives away,
And we, so free,
Out walking by the sea,
With someone else's paper words to say....

They took us at the gates of green return,
Too lost by then to stop, and ask them why-
Do children meet again?
Does any trace remain,
Along the superhighways of July?”

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―They fancied themselves free, wrote Camus, ―and no one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences

―In this respect, our townsfolk were like everybody else, wrapped up in themselves; in other words, they were humanists: they disbelieved in pestilences.

A pestilence isn't a thing made to man's measure; therefore we tell ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogy of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away.

But it doesn't always pass away and, from one bad dream to another, it is men who pass away, and the humanists first of all, because they have taken no precautions.

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Low Tuesday cases following the UK Bank Holiday Monday have clipped the daily growth to +4%. @video4me

Log-log continues to show the fast rise from B.1.617.2, which has given the current growth a kick.

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Scotland Delays Easing of Restrictions on Concern Over Variant @bpolitics

Edinburgh, the capital, will remain in the current level rather than seeing a further easing of some rules on household mixing and on businesses on June 7 as planned, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday. 

Glasgow, the biggest city, will drop to the same level as Edinburgh after a surge in cases had kept restrictions there for longer.

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Kumbh Mela: how a superspreader festival seeded Covid across India @guardian

On 12 April, as India registered another 169,000 new Covid-19 cases to overtake Brazil as the second-worst hit country, three million people gathered on the shores of the Ganges.

They were there, in the ancient city of Haridwar in the state of Uttarakhand, to take a ritual dip in the holy river. 

The bodies, squashed together in a pack of devotion and religious fervour, paid no visible heed to Covid protocols.

This was one of the holiest days of the Kumbh Mela, a festival that has become a highlight of the Hindu religious calendar and is known for drawing millions of pilgrims, seers, priests and tourists.

In the weeks beforehand, as a deadly coronavirus second wave began engulfing India, anxious calls to cancel the festival were rebuffed by the state and central government, which are both ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP). 

On 21 March, a full page newspaper advert featuring the prime minister, Narendra Modi, invited devotees to the festival, assuring them it was “clean” and “safe”.

1.2m Estimated daily visitors to Haridwar during the festival

3.1m Devotees who bathed in the Ganges on 12 April

2,000 People testing positive for Covid-19 in Haridwar, 10-14 April

1800% Increase in Covid cases in Uttarakhand state during the Mela

Uttarakhand BJP chief minister, Tirath Singh Rawat, who had earlier told devotees that “faith in God will overcome the fear of the virus”, was among the millions pictured taking part in the rituals wearing no face covering. 

By 15 April, more than 2,000 festivalgoers had already tested positive for Covid-19. 

Two days later, Modi backtracked and called for the Kumbh Mela to be “symbolic”, but it was too late. By the time the festival ended, on 28 April, more than 9 million people had attended.

The true toll of the Kumbh Mela will never be known, due in part to an alleged effort to stop collecting data. 

Thousands of pilgrims returned home without having been tested or quarantined and without any track of them kept by the government.

“Pilgrims from all states carried variant viruses and seeded epidemics,” said T Jacob John, a former director of virology at the Indian Council of Medical Research.

In the aftermath, Ashish Jha, dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University, said the Kumbh Mela was possibly “the biggest superspreader event in the history of the pandemic”.

The government has stood by its decision to hold the festival. The BJP vice-president, Baijayant Panda, said “ignorance” and “hinduphobic elements” were behind it being labelled a superspreader event.

Nonetheless, in the week that followed the festival, the host state of Uttarakhand registered a 1,800% increase in Covid cases, many of which have been linked in some way to the festival.

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

Ibn Khaldun explained the intrinsic relationship between political leadership and the management of pandemics in the pre-colonial period in his book Muqaddimah 

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

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

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

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13-JUL-2020 :: Year of the Virus ’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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Xi has taken calculated risks. The muscular and multi-faceted nature of Chinese Power is seen in its handling of COVID19

Controlling the COVID19 Narrative, suppressing the Enquiry, parlaying the situation into one of singular advantage marks a singular moment  

Xi Jinping has exhibited Chinese dominance over multiple theatres from the Home Front, the International Media Domain, the ‘’Scientific’’ domain over which he has achieved complete ownership and where any dissenting view is characterized as a ‘’conspiracy theory’’

It remains a remarkable achievement

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Prospects for the world economy have brightened but this is no ordinary recovery. It is likely to remain uneven and dependent on the effectiveness of vaccination programmes & public health policies. #EconomicOutlook @OECD
World Of Finance

Global economic growth is now expected to be 5.8% this year, a sharp upwards revision from the December 2020 Economic Outlook projection of 4.2% for 2021. 

The vaccines rollout in many of the advanced economies has been driving the improvement, as has the massive fiscal stimulus by the United States. 

World GDP growth is expected to be 4.4% next year but global income will still be some USD 3 trillion less by end 2022 than was expected before the crisis hit. 

USD 3 trillion is about the size of the entire French economy.

Some countries are recovering much faster than others. 

Korea and the United States are reaching pre-pandemic per capita income levels after about 18 months. 

Much of Europe is expected to take nearly 3 years to recover. 

In Mexico and South Africa, it could take between 3 and 5 years.

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.2218

Dollar Index 89.921

Japan Yen 109.66

Swiss Franc 0.8974

Pound 1.4154

Aussie 0.7748

India Rupee 73.1705

South Korea Won 1112.015

Brazil Real 5.1514

Egypt Pound 15.6797

South Africa Rand 13.77

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Druckenmiller on $DOGE, love it: @majgeoinvesting
World Currencies

"Manifestation of the craziest monetary policy in history. It’s just this wave of money in the Greater Fool Theory. Having said that, I wouldn’t short it because I don’t like putting campfires out with my face. So I pretend DOGE doesn’t exist."

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08-FEB-2021 :: The Markets Are Wilding
World Currencies

@elonmusk I am become meme, Destroyer of shorts

Mr. Musk can pump [and dump] just about anything with a tweet. he has superpowers.

And on February 4 He tested that hypothesis

No highs, no lows, only Doge @elonmusk Feb 4 

Dogecoin is the people’s crypto @elonmusk Feb 4

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The boundary between crypto and fiat money is becoming more permeable @TheEconomist
World Currencies

Finance has its squabbling tribes, much like the rest of society. 

A contest that attracts a lot of attention just now is the demographic-cum-digital divide between crypto kids and fiat dinosaurs

The crypto kids believe that blockchain-based finance is the future and a haven from the inevitable degradation of fiat money. 

In the opposite corner are the titanosaurs of the fiat world, the central bankers. “I’m sceptical about crypto assets, frankly, because they are dangerous,” said Andrew Bailey, the Bank of England’s boss, this week.

This is a good moment for the dinosaurs. The dollar price of bitcoin, the mainstay of crypto assets, fell from $58,000 or so in mid-May to around $33,000 in the space of a couple of weeks. 

The steepest part of that decline came after Tesla’s chief executive, Elon Musk, said his firm would suspend its policy of accepting bitcoin for purchases of its cars. 

A pledge by Chinese regulators to crack down on the mining of bitcoin gave the sell-off additional impetus.

The consequences have so far been few. Because there has been no visible collateral damage, crypto has been widely seen as a side-show in financial markets. 

This view is too dismissive, though. Crypto, like gold, is built on a collective belief about its value. 

But so to an extent are all asset prices. And crypto is moving past the point where it can be considered its own self-contained world

To understand bitcoin’s ascent it helps to go back to the work of Thomas Schelling, a Nobel-prizewinning economist and game theorist. 

Schelling contended that people are often able to act tacitly in concert if they know that others are trying to do the same. 

Many situations throw up a clue, a “focal point”, around which people can co-ordinate without explicitly agreeing to do so. 

For instance, if asked to pick a positive number, people will offer a variety of responses—one, seven, 100 and so on; but if asked to choose a number that others will also select, there is a preponderant choice: the number one.

This insight applies to certain assets that lack intrinsic value. 

The investment case for gold, said Schelling, can best be explained as a solution to a co-ordination game. Gold bars have value because enough people tacitly agree that they do

Their value is bolstered by their scarcity, and their longevity. Willem Buiter, a prominent economist, once aptly called gold the “six-thousand-year-old bubble”. 

Bitcoin is newer, but similar. Yes, the technology behind it is ingenious (although Ethereum, the next-most-valuable crypto asset, arguably has the more compelling user case). 

And, yes, bitcoin is used in transactions, if no longer for Tesla’s cars. But its selling points are scarcity and fame. It is a natural focal point. As with gold, you can make a theoretical case that it is proof against paper-money inflation.

The latest gyrations seem to confirm that crypto is a walled garden unconnected with the rest of finance. 

But if you look more closely a different pattern is emerging. There is already a pathway linking crypto prices with gold. 

Flows into exchange-traded funds (etfs) that invest in gold started to revive just as money was flowing out of bitcoin futures and etfs, according to a recent analysis by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou of JPMorgan Chase, a bank

That suggests that institutional investors are shifting back into gold after a flurry of interest in crypto, because bitcoin prices had risen too quickly. 

Viewed this way, the fall of bitcoin and the revival of gold are a relative-value trade within the broader set of inflation hedges.

Furthermore, it is hard to shake off the feeling that crypto-crashes now matter. This is the third bear market in four years, but a lot more money is now involved. 

The market capitalisation of cryptocurrencies tracked by a specialist website, coingecko.com, was more than $2.5trn in mid-May. A fortnight later it had fallen to $1.5trn. 

That is a big loss in anyone’s money. Crypto prices are creeping up again, so those losses are already being eroded. But at each new peak, the asset class looms ever larger. 

And a dollar lost in crypto investing is the same as a dollar that was once earned or borrowed—even if, at present, it is hard to know precisely who bears the loss.

There is something else to consider. Cryptocurrencies are highly speculative assets. It is thus hard not to think of their prices as a signal of shifts in risk appetite more broadly. 

Beliefs matter for all sorts of asset prices, whether in dollars or bitcoin. You might be able to dismiss this crypto-crash. But the next one will be harder to ignore.

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8 JAN 18 :: The Crypto Avocado Millenial Economy.
World Currencies

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

Paul Virilio has said ‘Wealth is the hidden side of speed and speed the hidden side of wealth’ and he is not wrong.

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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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University of Texas at Austin Study All But Confirms Tether Is Manipulating Bitcoin @UTSA
World Currencies

Large negative returns before the flows but are followed by  large return reversals

The abstract for the paper succinctly describes what the paper is about:

This paper investigates whether Tether, a digital currency pegged to U.S. dollars, influences Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency prices during the recent boom. 

Using algorithms to analyze the blockchain data, we find that purchases with Tether are timed following market downturns and result in sizable increases in Bitcoin prices.

Less than 1% of hours with such heavy Tether transactions are associated with 50% of the meteoric rise in Bitcoin and 64% of other top cryptocurrencies. 

The flow clusters below round prices, induces asymmetric autocorrelations in Bitcoin, and suggests incomplete Tether backing before month-ends.

These patterns cannot be explained by investor demand proxies but are most consistent with the supply-based hypothesis where Tether is used to provide price support and manipulate cryptocurrency prices.

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We need to get out of that range for bull to resume, trade with caution @RemiGMI
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 Currencies

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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Dubai Left Behind as World’s Prime Property Hotspots Thrive @markets
Emerging Markets

Fast emerging from the pandemic slump, the construction industry will deliver an estimated 62,000 homes in the emirate this year and nearly 63,500 in 2022, which would be the most since 2009, according to consultancy firm Knight Frank LLP.

The burst of supply will probably leave Dubai, alongside Buenos Aires, as the only two cities in Knight Frank’s selection of 25 prime locations to witness a decline in values for their top-end residential properties.

A supply glut that’s held down Dubai’s property prices for over half a decade will likely keep it on the sidelines of a global upswing in values of prime residential real estate.

Knight Frank expects Dubai, Buenos Aires to be the only cities seeing a decline in the value of prime properties

“The supply-demand imbalance has been a defining feature of Dubai’s residential market ever since the Great Recession of 2008-09,” said Faisal Durrani, head of Middle East Research at Knight Frank. 

“Looking at the next few years, this looks set to persist.”

While the wealthiest home buyers who fled virus lockdowns for Dubai have helped spur demand for luxury homes earlier this year, the improvement hasn’t been uniform. 

Much of the city’s real estate is still working through an oversupply that drove down values by over a third since 2014.

The pandemic compounded the pressures from job losses and departures of foreign workers, chipping away at demand for rentals. 

The booming residential pipeline suggests that chronic oversupply will remain a key vulnerability for Dubai, one of seven sheikdoms that make up the United Arab Emirates.

Still, the outlook also means that Dubai will be a relative bargain for buyers with deep pockets. 

A million dollars can buy 165 square meters (1,776 square feet) of space in Dubai, around five times more than in London or New York, according to Knight Frank. 

Dubai has 42,356 homes valued at $1 million, second only to the U.K. capital.

The values of prime homes, worth 3.6 million dirhams ($1 million) or more, are forecast to decline 2% in 2021 after dropping 6% in 2020, Knight Frank estimates.

Home prices overall are set to fall 2% to 3% while single-family properties -- known locally as villas and making up about a third of the city’s residential supply -- are likely to climb 3% to 4%, Durrani said.

While some completion delays are likely, “it does appear as though the market is being supplied with more homes than can be absorbed,” he added.

Still, Knight Frank forecasts prices will decline at a slower pace thanks to easing travel restrictions and plans to stage the postponed Expo 2020 later this year.

With “an improved economic outlook, business confidence is rising and that is filtering through to the property market in the form of heightened interest and rising deal volumes,” Durrani said.

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SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA - Population @StatiSense

1960: 227.2 million, 7% of the World

1970: 290.5 million, 8%

1980: 383.2 million, 9%

1990: 509.5 million, 10%

2000: 665.3 million, 11%

2010: 869 million, 13%

2019: 1.11 billion, 14%

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POPULATION....between 1999 & 2019 @StatiSense

Angola: 101%

KinshasaCongo Rep: 89%

Mali: 85%

Tanzania: 77%

Ethiopia: 74%

Nigeria 69%

Ghana: 62%

Pakistan: 56%

Egypt: 49%

India: 32%

Bangladesh: 30%

Canada: 24%

USA: 18%

China: 12%

Japan: 0%

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Africa is currently reporting a million new infections about every 96 days @ReutersGraphics

Angola 95% of peak 

Average number of new infections reported each day in Cape Verde falls by more than 140 over the last 3 weeks, 42% of its previous peak

Average number of new infections reported in Réunion each day reaches new high: Now reporting more than 1,000 daily

The average number of new infections reported in Uganda has been consistently increasing for 7 days

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Seychelles Says Active Covid-19 Cases Fall 11% in Week @bpolitics

Seychelles, which has vaccinated a greater proportion of its people against Covid-19 than any other nation, said active cases of the disease fell 11% in the week to May 29 as a recent surge in infections continues to abate.

The Indian Ocean archipelago has 1,071 active cases, the health ministry of the nation of 98,000 people said in a statement on Monday. Hospitalizations declined and to date no one who has been fully vaccinated has died of the disease, it said.

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An appalling cascade of atrocities with no end in sight. @thetimes view on the tragedy in Tigray | Comment | ⁦

Ethiopia’s offensive to crush a rebellion in the Tigray region was supposed to be a limited one, or so the Nobel peace laureate who launched it tried to reassure the world. 

Yet the violence Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s prime minister, unleashed on his country’s border with Eritrea has morphed into an appalling cascade of atrocities with no end in sight.

Mass rape, ethnic cleansing and killings, carried out by Eritrean and Ethiopian soldiers in pursuit of now near invisible Tigrayan rebels have swept up millions of civilians. 

In seven months, thousands have been killed and three million left at risk of famine. 

As The Times reported this weekend, the latest casualty of the fighting has been Tigray’s health system, with hospitals looted in a free for all that risks making an already dire situation catastrophic.

At the Hawzen Primary Hospital in northern Tigray, this newspaper found nothing but bare bed frames left for any patients who might arrive. 

Health officials say that about 80 per cent of Tigray’s hospitals have been destroyed by looting and vandalism in a campaign aimed at crippling medical services in the region. 

That campaign began early in the conflict. Doctors at Hawzen said that Eritrean military medics visited the hospital in November and made an inventory of equipment which they later returned to remove, from operating tables to pots and pans from the kitchen.

That the war crime of targeting civilian medical care is a familiar one makes it no less appalling. 

In Syria the forces of the Assad regime and the Russia air force colluded to target hospitals and clinics in rebel-controlled areas in an effort to drive out a civilian population Damascus believed would never be loyal. 

In Tigray the vandalism is equally carefully planned but much of the equipment is stolen rather than destroyed, allowing the other side to use it for their own population.

The fighting in Tigray shocked the world when it first broke out, due mostly to Abiy’s peacemaking credentials, reigniting questions about the process of awarding the Nobel peace prize. 

Yet it has stretched on, bloodily, with little attention, too often dismissed as simply another brutal African war.

Meanwhile the Horn of Africa faces serious environmental challenges to its food supply, including an infestation of locusts and droughts recurring with alarming frequency, raising fears of a repeat of the kind of famine that devastated it in the Eighties. 

In Tigray people are already starving while fleeing farmers leave behind their crops.

Before this conflagration, Ethiopia was emerging as the most dynamic large economy below the Sahara. Now foreign investors are nervous, putting projects on hold

The US has paused economic and security assistance to Ethiopia while announcing visa bans on officials from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Tigray, blamed for impeding a resolution to the conflict. 

The EU has suspended Ethiopia’s budget support until aid agencies are given access to the conflict zone.

Abiy may not be the first Nobel laureate to squander his reputation , but he is the speediest. 

At his 2019 ceremony, he said “war is the epitome of hell”. That is certainly what Tigray sounds like now. 

Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s other regions are erupting, with hundreds killed in clashes between Oromos and Amharas, and between ethnic Somalis and Afars. The peacemaking that should be rewarded is the peacemaking that happens 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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Gunmen opened fire at a car carrying a Ugandan government minister in an attempted assassination on Tuesday, wounding former army commander and killing his daughter and driver @Reuters

Four attackers on motorcycles sprayed bullets at a four-wheel drive vehicle carrying General Katumba Wamala, the minister of works and transport, in the Kampala suburb of Kisasi, local television station NBS reported.

President Yoweri Museveni condemned the attack, blaming it on criminals, terrorists and "pigs who do not value life". In a Twitter post, he said that authorities already had clues in the case, and the criminals responsible would be defeated.

"I have survived, we have lost Brenda... The bad guys have done it, but God has given me a second chance."

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Spain's High Court turned down a request for Western Sahara independence leader Brahim Ghali to be taken into custody, saying plaintiffs in a war crimes case against him had failed to provide evidence he had committed any crime. @Reuters

The Polisario Front leader, who has been hospitalized in the Spanish city of Logrono for more than a month, appeared remotely before the court in Madrid.

He and other Polisario Front leaders are accused by human rights groups and Western Sahara individuals of genocide, murder, terrorism, torture and disappearances, a court document said. He denies any wrongdoing.

"The prosecution report has not provided elements of evidence supporting the existence of reasons to believe he is responsible of any crime," a court document said.

The Spanish government says he was allowed treatment in Spain as a humanitarian gesture, but the move had angered Morocco and led Rabat to relax border controls which allowed thousands of migrants to enter Spain's North African enclave of Ceuta last month

Shortly after Tuesday's court decision, Spanish government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero said she expected diplomatic relations with Morocco to return to normal in the coming hours.

But despite her optimism, the decision not to detain Ghali was likely to infuriate Morocco.

Ghali's Algeria-backed Polisario Front is fighting for the independence of Western Sahara, which was a Spanish colony until the mid-1970s and has since been considered by Morocco as part of its own territory.

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Chakwera loses his lustre @Africa_Conf

U-turns and misjudgements are damaging the President’s standing with the public as stresses in the ruling coalition mount

As befits a devout evangelist and former pastor, President Lazarus Chakwera promised to lead Malawians 'to Canaan' after winning last year's dramatic election, a re-run of the previous poll cancelled by judges over fraud by ex-President Peter Mutharika's Democratic Progressive Party. 

Wits on social media say that he only has led the country to war-torn Baghdad.

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Repression, guns and new laws As economic chaos and corruption reign, President Mnangagwa crafts a wave of new laws to pre-empt dissent says @Africa_Conf

After bludgeoning his opponents for the past three years, President Emmerson Mnangagwa is stepping up laws against all dissent and erasing the last vestiges of judicial independence. 

Seizing power after a coup and hanging on through a disputed election in 2018, Mnangagwa is confident he has hamstrung the opposition parties.

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Nyusi angers the region @Africa_Conf

Two months after Islamist militants mounted their spectacular invasion of the town of Palma in Cabo Delgado province, President Filipe Nyusi still does not know where to turn. 

The longer he waits, however, the more time the militants will have to prepare more strikes, counter-insurgency experts say 

This sets the stage for a difficult summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Maputo on 27-28 May to discuss regional insecurity, focusing on the insurgency in Cabo Delgado and the need for a regional intelligence and military response. 

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is the incoming chairman of the Troika of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, is to attend with Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

Diplomats and intelligence officials in the region fear that if Maputo does not get on top of the insurgency soon, it will spread north into Tanzania and south towards Malawi

That could allow so-called Islamic State (IS or Da'ish), which claims the movement often known as Ahlu Sunna Wal Jammah (ASWJ) as its affiliate, greater opportunities 

South Africa is also worried that it could become the target of terrorist attacks. 'There are concerns that South Africa is being used as a base and "safe haven" for logistical planning by terrorist groups,' notes a South African military intelligence report seen by Africa Confidential. 

It warns of the 'importation of terror risks' from Mozambique. On 21 May Pandor said South Africa would push for an intervention force to go to Cabo Delgado because the insecurity poses 'a threat to the region'. 

Mozambique's neighbours do not want to wait until Cabo Delgado's problem becomes their own. 

Mozambican officials privately ascribe Nyusi's reluctance to allow the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to send a force to fear it could be bogged down interminably, like the African Union troops fighting Al Shabaab in Somalia. 

Civil society activists, however, say that the real reason Nyusi does not want foreign boots on the ground is to avoid interfering with the drug-trafficking economy in Cabo Delgado

Frente de Libertação de Moçambique's (Frelimo) Makonde generals have always run the province's various criminal rackets, and Nyusi, who is also Makonde, owes his prominence to that network. 

But the attack on Palma left Nyusi less able to resist some form of intervention. 

On 8 April at the SADC summit called to consider the issue, he yielded a little, and allowed in a technical team to assess the nature of a SADC force, if it were to be deployed. 

When Zimbabwe's information ministry tried to push for the force to be 'capacitated immediately so that it can intervene', Maputo pushed back, calling this pre-emptive. 

Signs that Nyusi was finally ready to yield to SADC pressure for a deployment quickly faded. Days after the summit, the technical team's report was leaked, which appeared designed to hinder the plan. 

The document advocated a force of 3,000 on land, sea and air. Mozambican officials have made various off-the-record objections, saying the force is too heavy, or just a ploy for other states to get money out of the European Union to beef up their own armies, and cited other reasons that made Maputo's continued opposition clear. 

A follow-up meeting set for the 28 April where the technical team's findings would be presented and debated was, to little surprise, cancelled, although some officials said it was because key SADC leaders had other commitments. 

However, that was the day Nyusi flew to Kigali to meet President Paul Kagame. Many diplomats take this as a signal from Nyusi to SADC that he has other options if the regional bloc pushes him too hard. 

The Rwandan military, regarded as highly professional in the region, has been working with the Central African Republic government on a bilateral basis against rebels there, as well as its role in a UN force. 

Growing closeness between Maputo and Kigali is not something South Africa welcomes. 

Its relations with Rwanda have not fully recovered from the murders of Rwandan dissidents on South African soil 

Tanzania's relations with Rwanda are also cool and it would likely regard Rwandan involvement in Cabo Delgado with displeasure. 

Whatever force may come to Cabo Delgado it is not clear how, if at all, its plans would dovetail with the government's plan to deploy up to US$1 billion in World Bank-managed funds on its Agência do Desenvolvimento Integrado do Norte (ADIN – integrated development fund) projects designed to calm tensions and pull the rug from under the feet of the insurgency. 

Many in Maputo are nervous about the fact that ADIN is overseen by the Minister of Land, Environment and Rural Development, Celso Correia. 

Correia was Nyusi's election campaign manager in 2014 and in the campaign of 2019, which was widely viewed as grossly fraudulent 

Before he was Nyusi's right-hand man Correia performed the same role for ex-President Armando Guebuza. 

He has also been linked to Mohamed Bashir Suleiman, reputed to be one of the country's biggest drugs importers, who was labelled a 'drugs kingpin' by the US government

Concern that ADIN could become Cabo Delgado's latest machine for enriching the local elite runs high. 

The sacking of Armando Panguene, a former governor of Cabo Delgado, as head of ADIN was seen as a bad sign. Panguene was well regarded by Cabo Delgado's civil society. 

Nyusi has appointed Armindo Ngunga, previously the State Secretary of the province, in place of Panguene. 

International aid workers say that Ngunga opposed the delivery of Cyclone Idai emergency aid to some remote areas of the province because he thought insurgents would steal it. 

He favours spending the money on new infrastructure and resettlement facilities for the displaced in areas that are currently outside the conflict zone.

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4 JUN 12 :: Maputo, Boom Town

Some estimate that Mozambique has gas which is equivalent to 2m barrels of crude oil per day for 50 Years. 2m barrels of crude is worth $166m (Sh14billion) [per day].

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CHAD Oil-backed loans cast shadow @Africa_Conf

President Déby's death has put the debt crisis negotiations on hold but Glencore faces pressure to make concessions

A month after Mahamat Idriss Déby took the helm in Chad in the wake of his father's death in April, huge questions remain over the country's economic fortunes, notably over the repayment of mammoth loans from a syndicate led by giant Swiss commodities trader Glencore.

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@RaniaKhalek is joined by Djiboutian dissident in hiding Abdirahman Mohamed Ahmed @rassace @BTnewsroom

Imperialism is destabilizing the Horn of Africa, as Gulf States and the US turn it into a battlefield for their cold wars with Iran and China. 

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.@FitchRatings Fitch Affirms Seychelles at 'B'; Outlook Stable

Seychelles' 'B' IDRs balance high public and external indebtedness, a small economy that is vulnerable to external shocks
, and large structural current account deficits against strong governance, development and income per capita metrics relative to peer group medians and a good record of public debt reduction pre-pandemic.

The Stable Outlook reflects our expectation for tourism and economic growth to recover, a moderate near-term external commercial debt repayment schedule, and a good record of adherence to IMF programmes that supports multilateral financing.

We see signs of a recovery in tourist flows to Seychelles, which reopened its borders on 25 March. 

Visitor arrivals in April rebounded to 38% of the 2019 level, the highest since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic

Fitch forecasts a gradual recovery of monthly tourist arrivals to 2019 levels by 3Q22, with total arrivals in 2021 at 41% of the 2019 level. 

The recovery is driven by non-core tourist markets and should be supported by the return of traditional European tourists as global travel restrictions ease.

Fitch forecasts real GDP to rebound to a 5% growth in 2021 (2020: -12.8%), driven by a robust resumption of tourist activity, favourable base effects, and supported by expansionary fiscal and monetary policies, and a very successful vaccination programme (70% of the population with a first dose in mid-May). 

However, the recent rise in daily infection cases and deaths since end-April 2021 could result in further restrictions that could weigh on the recovery, while adverse developments in the pandemic globally also pose a downside risk.

The 2020 pandemic reversed a decade of fiscal consolidation and public debt reduction effort. 

The general government balance turned to a 18.9% of GDP deficit (B median: 7%) in 2020, from a 0.2% surplus in 2019, as income support and other social transfers increased current expenditure by 34%, and as tax revenues fell 14% with the contraction in tourism, especially in indirect taxes (-18%). 

The return of some tourism activity in 2021, larger grant receipts and a rebound in nominal GDP will shrink the fiscal deficit to 11.9% in 2021. 

Nominal fiscal expenditure should narrow only marginally as grant-financed capital expenditures partially offsets lower current expenditure from the phasing out of the flagship job retention scheme (2020: 6.6% of GDP) at end-March 2021.

Government debt/GDP increased 38pp in 2020 to 96% and we forecast only a slight fall in 2021 to 95.5% and further to 86% in 2022 due to economic recovery, rupee appreciation, and also to some fiscal consolidation

Foreign-currency debt comprised almost half of total debt at end-2020, increasing the vulnerability to external shocks, while short-term maturities accounted for a large 30% share of total debt, increasing interest-rate and roll-over risks.

Financing needs in 2020 were largely met through domestic sources (close to 85% of total), mainly through treasury bills, and SCR1.5 billion (7.5% of GDP) of three-, five- and seven-year bonds. 

For 2021, Fitch forecasts financing needs at 11.9% of GDP to be met primarily by domestic borrowing from banks (10.4% of GDP). 

Further programme disbursements from the IMF, World Bank and AFDB (worth roughly USD150 million) are currently being negotiated. 

In Fitch's view, the negotiation of a new IMF programme is unlikely to be problematic, given Seychelles' strong record of adherence to previous programmes.

The authorities are exploring the option of extending the average maturity of debt through a one-off exchange of treasury bills for longer-dated bonds through a voluntary market-based operation, although details are not yet available. 

The government has a manageable debt repayment schedule this year, and we understand from the authorities that this maturity extension operation is being designed as a liability management exercise.

Fitch's debt estimates exclude USD82 million (6.5% of GDP) of Air Seychelles debt, of which the government is negotiating USD72 million with the airline's bondholders to reduce to USD20 million. 

In May 2021, the government acquired Etihad's 40% stake in Air Seychelles to become the sole owner, negotiating a reduction in Air Seychelles' liabilities to Etihad. 

In 2020, Air Seychelles, the state transport company, and airport authority were the main loss-making state-owned enterprises (SOEs), with total SOE non-guaranteed debt estimated by the government at 15% of GDP.

Fitch forecasts the current account deficit to narrow to 23% of GDP in 2021, after widening to 28% in 2020 (B median: 3.3%). 

The worsened current account deficit in 2020 and 2021 is primarily due to a slump in tourism receipts, but has remained large also due to a high import share of consumption and investment. 

Large estimation errors in the balance of payments raises uncertainty over the size of financing needs.

The current account deficit in 2020 was financed by multilateral concessional borrowing and inter-company loans, robust net foreign direct investment (FDI) flows amounting to 14.2% of GDP, as well as a large drawdown in private-sector assets. 

Net external debt jumped to 69% of GDP at end-2020 (end-2019: 40%), and should peak at 74% in 2021, while external debt service is moderate at 6.5% of current account external receipts in 2021, well below the 'B' current peer median (19.5%).

Despite external pressures in 2020 from tourist receipts being more than halved, there was a limited fall in Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS) official reserves of USD18.1 million to USD563 million (4.6 months of current external payments (CXP)) according to IFS data. 

We forecast CBS reserves to fall further to USD485 million in 2021 (3.7 months CXP) as adjustment to the external shock firms up. 

The sharp 55% depreciation of rupee against the US dollar at end-1Q20 to end-2020 has preserved foreign reserves, with the CBS intervening to ensure a smooth functioning of the foreign-exchange (FX) market.

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South Africa’s official unemployment rate rose to a new high in the first quarter as the construction and trade industries shed jobs. @economics

The jobless rate rose to 32.6% from 32.5% in the three months through December, Statistics South Africa said Tuesday in a report released in the capital, Pretoria. That’s the highest number on record.

Unemployment according to the expanded definition, which includes people who were available for work but not looking for a job, rose to 43.2% from 42.6% the previous quarter. 

That was as the number of discouraged work seekers surged by 201,000 people in the quarter.

Persistently high unemployment poses a threat to social stability in Africa’s most-industrialized economy. 

It could complicate efforts to reduce fiscal deficits and slow debt growth as it may force Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to re-introduce a special Covid-19 relief grant for unemployed people that ended in April. 

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9 DEC 19 :: Time to Big Up the Dosage of Quaaludes
Kenyan Economy

David Ndii headlines his latest Opinion Piece in the Elephant ‘’An IMF Straightjacket Is a Fitting End''

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.@Kenya_Re reports FY 2020 Earnings here
N.S.E Equities - Finance & Investment

Par Value:                  2.50/-

Closing Price:           2.30

Total Shares Issued:          2799796272.00

Market Capitalization:        6,439,531,426

EPS:             1.05

PE:               2.38


Leading reinsurance and insurance provider.

Kenya Re reports FY earnings as at 31st December 2020 versus 31st December 2019

FY Income 

FY Gross premiums written 18.535220b versus 17.521343b

FY Net Earned Premiums 20.850266b versus 15.530618b

FY Investment Income 3.791916b versus 3.714696b

FY Fair Value gains on revaluation [36.403m] versus 2.176592b

FY Total Income 25.003287b versus 22.117061b

FY Net Claims and Benefits [13.516578b] versus [11.061940b]

FY Cedant Acquisition costs [5.310496b] versus [4.092047b]

FY Operating and Other Expenses [1.964808b] versus [2.043452b]

FY Provision for doubtful Debts [227.813m] versus [743.428m]

FY Total Claims, Benefits and Other expenses [21.019694b] versus [17.940867b]

FY Profit before Tax 3.983593b versus 4.176194b

FY Profit after Tax 2.942923b versus 3.966379b

FY Remeasurement gains/ [Losses] on defined benefit plans net of Tax [152.013m] versus [60.119m]

FY Net gains [losses] on revaluation of available for sale quoted Equity instruments [396.063m] versus [53.952m]

FY Currency Translation 373.905m versus 7.415m

FY Total Comprehensive Income 2.726581b versus 3.892669b

FY EPS 1.05 versus 2.55 

FY Government securities 17.258062b versus 17.112941b

FY Deposits with Financial Institutions 8.306552b versus 6.786635b

FY Cash and Cash Equivalents 10.759878b versus 7.371304b

FY Dividend 0.20 

Company Commentary 

Gross written premiums grew by 6% from KShs 17.52 billion in the year 2019 to KShs 18.54 billion in 2020. 

Net earned premiums grew by 34% from KShs 15.53 billion in 2019 to KShs 20.85 billion in 2020

Investment income grew by 2% from KShs 3.71 billion in 2019 to KShs 3.79 billion in 2020,driven by adhering to the Corporation’s investment strategy Claims incurred in year 2020 grew by 22% to KShs 13.52 billion up from KShs 11.06 billion in 2019.

Cedant acquisition costs increased by 30% from KShs. 4.09 billion in 2019 to KShs. 5.31 billion in 2020 .

Operating expenses decreased by 4% from KShs. 2,043 million as at 31 December 2019 to KShs.1,965 million as at 31st December 2020. Profit before tax for the year 2020 stood at KShs 3.98 billion, a decrease of 5% from profit before tax of KShs 4 .18 billion in 2019

The asset base increased from KShs 50.36 billion in 2019 to KShs 53.24 billion in 2020, a growth of 6%.

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@Kenya_Re 2020 results: @MwangoCapital
N.S.E Equities - Finance & Investment

- Gross written premiums up 5.7% 

- Net earned premiums up 34.2%

- Claims incurred up 21.7%

- Cedant acquisition costs up 29.8%

- Profit b4 tax down 4.6%

- Total Assets up 5.7%

- Dividend of Kshs. 0.20 (DPR:20%)


On a PE of 2.38 This is by any standard an egregiously priced share 

A Dividend yield of 8% also surely underpines the price 

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

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