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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Thursday 12th of August 2021

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On safari in Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park @thetimes @janeflan

For many agonising minutes the African painted dog would let us see only her ears. Like bristly dark radars, they had inched up from her underground den, panning for danger. 

Finally, and to my huge relief, she stalked up into the open, her eyes amber in the mid-morning sun, her nose working the breeze. 

She was easily visible against the sand mound, and then suddenly the smears of black through bronze to cream that give these dogs their name melted into the backdrop of winter leaves, shadows and bark.
Despite many trips to the bush I had yet to glimpse one of these endangered animals, also known as wild dogs or painted wolves. 

It was worth the effort of getting to the Mana Pools in Zimbabwe National Park in Zimbabwe for my first sighting.
“She knows we’re here,” mouthed Steve Bolnick, who had guided us on foot for five miles — rifle over his shoulder — through terrain rich in lion, buffalo and elephant. We were now crouching within sight of the dogs’ sanctuary. “But she also knows we are no threat.”

A soft growl from the female evidently signalled that all was well, and six pups noisily scrambled to the surface to rag, gnaw and lick one another before collapsing in a single pile of yawns. 

All the while their watchful mother paced the mouth of the den — a repurposed aardvark hole tunnelled in thick undergrowth — anticipating the return of the hunting pack.

“I’m calling that one ‘Floppy Ear’,” whispered my 14-year-old daughter, Tess, picking her favourite from the weeks-old litter that would soon grow into superpredators with a kill ratio many times higher than that of a lion. 

A wolf has more in common genetically with the Jack Russell terrier than these natural-born killers do.

We were lucky to find the mother there at all, Bolnick murmured from behind his binoculars. Alpha pairs are the only members of the female-led pack to breed and, since alpha females are the most motivated hunters, pup care is usually left to another member of the pack. 

It’s a huge responsibility; left unguarded, dens can be dug out by hungry lions. I would have happily settled for the pup show, until a bark from the female set off a squealing cacophony that signalled the return of the pack and the regurgitation of the successful hunt.

The last time I visited Zimbabwe purely for pleasure was 20 years ago. Since then my regular visits from South Africa, where I live, have been to report for The Times on the worsening economic and political chaos: the deadly land grab, stolen elections and poverty that have left half its 14 million population hungry.

Mana Pools is considered by many to be Africa’s most beautiful national park, and Zimbabwe still has many of the continent’s best wildlife guides. 

But the man-made mayhem has diverted all but the most intrepid international tourists to the far busier (and tamer) safari honeypots of South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania.

For the past three decades Bolnick has guided all over southern Africa, typically for foreign private clients who book his services over and over again. 

But this year the pandemic travel restrictions that prevented my family’s annual British summer holiday, combined with huge discounts for regional African tourists, provided a perfect opportunity for the safari we had longed for.
We savoured our walk to the den, taking many hours over it after setting off at first light, once Bolnick “could see the front sights of [his] rifle”. 

We spent the morning learning to identify birds from their flight patterns and getting a tracking masterclass as our guide picked out individual spoor from the overnight traffic.

To keep us safely downwind of cantankerous old buffalo bulls — known as the “dagga boys” — and some of the biggest elephants I had seen, Bolnick puffed fine ash from a leadwood tree out of an old talc container to see which direction it blew in. 

He patiently fielded questions from us — a mixed group of family and friends, from teenagers to the middle-aged — never betraying that he must have answered them hundreds of times before.

My 15-year-old son was quick to pick up the bushcraft. “That’s lion, isn’t it?” Kit asked, pointing to a dimple in the sand as Bolnick nodded, his eyes now sweeping the bush

It was so fresh that it still bore the brush marks from the tufts of fur between the cat’s toes. “This print is only minutes old,” Bolnick confirmed.

Walking safaris in Africa’s national parks are uncommon, but Mana — part of a Unesco world heritage site — is among the best parks to explore on foot. 

While distances covered on game drives boost the chances of ticking off most of the big five (lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant — although all Mana’s rhinos have been poached), the wonders and soundtrack of nature are far more intense away from the Jeep tracks and diesel throb. 

The exercise also made me feel I had earned my creature comforts in an untamed wilderness.

Camp Mana, Bolnick’s tented base on the south bank of the Zambezi River, which separates Zimbabwe from Zambia, is very far from the boutique safari set-ups I’ve experienced in South Africa and the Okavango Delta in Botswana — where wi-fi and even gyms are increasingly must-haves. It was all the better for it.

“Touch the earth lightly” is the philosophy of the camp that Bolnick and his team build each March and take down each November, leaving no clue it was ever there. 

No cement is laid, no foundation poles driven into the earth. Yet, stripped of any frivolousness, it still provided every luxury we wanted. 

Our nine-strong group had the six en suite double tents to ourselves, with flush loos and bucket showers from river water warmed over a fire. 

The only hint of modernity was the discreet solar panels powering our evening lights.

With summer temperatures unbearably high and rainfall that disperses the game across the park’s 2,600 square miles, the dry austral autumn and winter (May to October) is the best time to visit Mana — then the animals gravitate towards the Zambezi and its terraced floodplains, a stage on which wildlife dramas have played out for millennia.
Between activities led by Bolnick and the camp’s second guide, Frank Chikosi, we ate and lazed on sofas in a large open-sided mess tent. 

Our view was of the Zambian escarpment, rising 5,000ft over water that echoed with the honks of hippos. 

Families of elephants sauntered through the camp every day of our stay, occasionally trapping us in the mess or our tents as they delicately stepped over guy ropes to hoover up fallen seedpods from the winter thorn tree that shaded us.

We barely spotted another visitor during our week in the park, and it was well worth the effort of getting there. 

Many visitors usually add Mana to their itinerary by crossing the river from Zambia. 

Instead, with Zimbabwe’s international land borders closed, we flew into Harare, where we had booked a comfortable minivan, driven by Evans, who navigated the potholes skilfully for the 220-mile journey north to the banks of the river described by David Livingstone as “God’s highway”.

Evans returned to deliver us to the next stage of our adventure, which began with an arresting written warning to “Beware of the crocodiles” at a small marina where we boarded a houseboat for a three-night floating safari on Kariba, once a gorge and now the world’s largest man-made reservoir.
The photographers, birdwatchers and fishing fans among us were in bliss as our captain weaved our boat, Nyati, between the skeletons of long-submerged trees and lingered on the edge of Matusadona National Park, another of Zimbabwe’s overlooked jewels. 

Since Kariba teems with crocodiles and hippos, water from it was piped into a splash pool on the upper deck for us to have our own wallow and cool down.

As the sun sank and began to redden, Nyati’s crew would prepare its two tenders and offer the choice between a booze cruise that invariably delivered some amazing wildlife sightings — fish eagles hunting and elephants bathing — and an expedition for the would-be hunter-gatherers to land bream for supper. 

By now we had all become reliant on the glorious racket of the bush to lull us to sleep and, rather than tucking up in the cabins below, we chose a mass sleepover under the stars on deck. Wherever you are in Zimbabwe, I have come to realise, life is rarely quiet.

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By Night in Chile (Spanish title: Nocturno de Chile) is a novella written by Chilean author Roberto Bolaño

I AM DYING NOW, but I still have many things to say. I used to be at peace with myself. Quiet and at peace.

But it all blew up unexpectedly. That wizened youth is to blame. I was at peace.

They seemed to be screaming the name of that forsaken village, Querquén, but they also seemed to be enquiring who: quién, quién, quién.

I said a hasty prayer and headed for a wooden bench, there to recover a composure more in keeping with what I was, or what at the time I considered myself to be. 

Our Lady, do not abandon your servant, I murmured, while the black birds, about twenty-five centimeters in length, cried quién, quién, quién, Our Lady of Lourdes, do not abandon your poor priest, I murmured, while other birds, about ten centimeters long, brown in color, or brownish, rather, with white breasts, called out, but not as loudly, quién, quién, quién. 

Our Lady of Suffering, Our Lady of Insight, Our Lady of Poetry, do not leave your devoted subject at the mercy of the elements, I murmured, while several tiny birds, magenta, black, fuchsia, yellow and blue in color, wailed quién, quién, quién, at which point a cold wind sprang up suddenly, chilling me to the bone. 

Then, at the end of the dirt road, there appeared a sort of tilbury or cabriolet or carriage pulled by two horses, one cream, one piebald, and, as it drew near, its silhouette looming on the horizon cut a figure I can only describe as ruinous, as if that equipage were coming to take someone away to Hell 

All conversation, all dialogue, is forbidden, said a voice. Sometimes I wondered about the nature of that voice. Was it the voice of an angel? Was it the voice of my guardian angel? Was it the voice of a demon? 

It did not take me long to discover that it was my own voice, the voice of my superego guiding my dream like a pilot with nerves of steel, it was the super-I driving a refrigerated truck down the middle of a road engulfed in flames, while the id groaned and rambled on in a vaguely Mycenaean jargon

The shadows are gone, the rushing is gone, that feeling of being caught in a photographic negative is gone, was it just a dream?

A delicious perfume given off by clumps of flowers was wafting all through the gardens. A bird called out and straightaway, from somewhere within the walls or from an adjoining property, a bird of the same species replied, then I heard a flapping of wings that seemed to rip through the night and then the deep silence returned, unscathed. 

Let’s take a walk, said the general. As if he were a magician, as soon as we stepped through the window frame and entered the enchanted gardens, lights came on, exquisitely scattered here and there among the plants. 

my vociferations and on occasions my howling could only be heard by those who were able to scratch the surface of my writings with the nails of their index fingers, and they were not many, but enough for me, and life went on and on and on, like a necklace of rice grains, on each grain of which a landscape had been painted, tiny grains and microscopic landscapes, 

and I knew that everyone was putting that necklace on and wearing it, but no one had the patience or the strength or the courage to take it off and look at it closely and decipher each landscape grain by grain, partly because to do so required the vision of a lynx or an eagle, and partly because the landscapes usually turned out to contain unpleasant surprises like coffins, makeshift cemeteries, ghost towns, the void and the horror, the smallness of being and its ridiculous will,

I thought as night fell with a snakelike hissing.

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Sunrise at Stella Point on Mt Kilimanjaro, 6.30am. @rob_heaps

We climbed through the night and the sun came up as we reached the top. Might be the lack of oxygen but it felt like we could see the curvature of the earth beneath us #kilimanjaro

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I wonder what the long-term impact will be of the poor handling of the COVID crisis by many elites across the world? @GuyReuters
Law & Politics

JUN 20 ::  Fast Forward

However, what I am noticing is a metastatic expansion of this Protest

It is about the Haves and the Have Nots. Its about the moment of Epiphany when the Have Nots appreciate the predicament in which they have been placed and identify with each other rather than a ‘’boogaloo’’ structure that has been placed upon them.
Will they have that moment of Epiphany? Well There certainly has not been a more ‘’conducive’’ moment.


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The central problem in #Lebanon is beyond corruption. It's that the parasite killed its host. @nntaleb
Law & Politics

21 OCT 19 :: The New Economy of Anger

nose-diving economic opportunity is creating tinder-dry conditions.

The Phenomenon is spreading like wildfire in large part because of the tinder dry conditions underfoot. 

Prolonged stand-offs eviscerate economies, reducing opportunities and accelerate the negative feed- back loop.
Antonio Gramsci wrote, “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum, a great variety of morbid symptoms appear. now is the time of monsters.”

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“I can’t put out the fire,” #Lebanon's new billionaire PM tells @DLKhraiche “But I can stop it from spreading." @PaulWallace123
Law & Politics

Outside powers “know that if Lebanon descends into a full crash, it will be a bomb and a shock for the entire Middle East.”

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How ripples at the Periphery could boomerang towards the centre the butterfly effect
Law & Politics

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.

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Let’s @Zoom Xi. He has questions to answer @globeandmail ©Nfergus The @thesundaytimes London H/T @depappas
Law & Politics

In Liu Cixin’s extraordinary science-fiction novel The Three-Body Problem, 

China recklessly creates, then ingeniously solves, an existential threat to humanity, by establishing contact with the planet Trisolaris and then thwarting a Trisolaran invasion. I remember thinking it was an odd plot structure when I read it last year. 

This is not how sci-fi plots work in western literature. The bad guys (the Germans, the Russians, the Chinese, or just the aliens) do bad stuff and then the good guys (they speak English) save the world. 

One of the many things I learnt from reading the novel is that, in this respect as in so many others, China is different. It’s okay for China to sicken the world in order to save it.
Second, how big a role did the central government play in the cover-up after it became clear in Wuhan that there was human-to-human transmission? 

We now know there were 104 cases of the new disease, including 15 deaths, between December 12 and the end of that month. 

Why was the official Chinese line on December 31 that there was “no clear evidence” of human-to-human transmission? And why did that official line not change until January 20?

Third, after it became clear that there was a full-blown epidemic spreading from Wuhan to the rest of Hubei province, why did you cut off travel from Hubei to the rest of China – on January 23 – but not from Hubei to the rest of the world?

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"Third, why did you cut off travel from Hubei to the rest of China – on 1/23 – but not from Hubei to the rest of the world?" @depappas
Law & Politics

"Third, after it became clear that there was a full-blown epidemic spreading from Wuhan to the rest of Hubei province, why did you cut off travel from Hubei to the rest of China – on 1/23 – but not from Hubei to the rest of the world?"

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13-JUL-2020 :: Year of the Virus

There is also a non negligible possibility that #COVID19 was deliberately released – and propagated world wide.

America and China Are Entering the Dark Forest @bopinion @nfergus 

"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.”
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.

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08-MAR-2021 :: Xi has taken calculated risks. The muscular and multi-faceted nature of Chinese Power is seen in its handling of COVID19
Law & Politics

.@FHeisbourg François Heisbourg: «Le coronavirus, c’est un Tchernobyl chinois à la puissance dix»
First, they staged their "exemplary handling" of the pandemic in a very loud manner, in order to avoid interest in the regime.
And then they severely punished countries that demanded an impartial international investigation, made up of the best experts. Australia, which had insisted on the need for transparency, was imposed economic sanctions and a block on its imports.
The debate on the origin of the virus remains totally open, fundamental and potentially explosive.
Controlling the COVID19 Narrative, suppressing the Enquiry, parlaying the situation into one of singular advantage marks a singular moment and 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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In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.
Food, Climate & Agriculture

Lorenz wrote:
"At one point I decided to repeat some of the computations in order to examine what was happening in greater detail. I stopped the computer, typed in a line of numbers that it had printed out a while earlier, and set it running again. I went down the hall for a cup of coffee and returned after about an hour, during which time the computer had simulated about two months of weather. The numbers being printed were nothing like the old ones. I immediately suspected a weak vacuum tube or some other computer trouble, which was not uncommon, but before calling for service I decided to see just where the mistake had occurred, knowing that this could speed up the servicing process. Instead of a sudden break, I found that the new values at first repeated the old ones, but soon afterward differed by one and then several units in the last decimal place, and then began to differ in the next to the last place and then in the place before that. In fact, the differences more or less steadily doubled in size every four days or so, until all resemblance with the original output disappeared somewhere in the second month. This was enough to tell me what had happened: the numbers that I had typed in were not the exact original numbers, but were the rounded-off values that had appeared in the original printout. The initial round-off errors were the culprits; they were steadily amplifying until they dominated the solution." (E. N. Lorenz, The Essence of Chaos, U. Washington Press, Seattle (1993), page 134)[7]
Elsewhere he stated:
One meteorologist remarked that if the theory were correct, one flap of a sea gull's wings would be enough to alter the course of the weather forever. The controversy has not yet been settled, but the most recent evidence seems to favor the sea gulls.

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23-NOV 2015 I cannot help feeling we are like frogs in boiling water. We have created massive interference in the "cosmic tuning" phenomenon
Food, Climate & Agriculture

In this book, Martin Rees puts forward six equations which govern our universe, a universe so big that we are like a grain of sand on a beach. The mathematics of these equations is so miraculous that Rees speaks to a “cosmic tuning” phenomenon.
For example; Ω ≈ 0.3: the ratio of the actual density of the universe to the critical (minimum) density required for the universe to even- tually collapse under its gravity. Ω determines the ultimate fate of the universe. 

If Ω is greater than one, the universe will experience a big crunch. If Ω is less than one, the universe will expand forever.

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Ex-Dallas Fed Pres. Richard Fisher put it: “We injected monetary heroin into the system.” @ClarkiiStomias
World Of Finance

Now the only systemic outcomes are withdrawal (asset destruction) or overdose (currency destruction), either of which would lead to the system’s death.
However, there are many discordant notes.
Firstly consider

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.1737
Dollar Index 92.927
Japan Yen 110.42
Swiss Franc 0.9217
Pound 1.3858
Aussie 0.7356
India Rupee 74.2875
South Korea Won 1161.275
Brazil Real 5.2185
Egypt Pound 15.6996
South Africa Rand 14.6867

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Conversation with the dads at my son’s footie training yesterday was eye opening and annoying on equal measure. @timmycb5
RealEstate, Housing & Construction

First of all, I’m fairly certain they ALL voted for Brexit. Second, they are ALL tradesmen, some of whom run their own businesses.


The headline is that construction costs have gone up about 40-60% on average. @timmycb5


The sparkies will not quote for jobs now, unless they are immediate starts as the wholesale cost for cabling/copper is only guaranteed by the wholesaler for 3 days.

One of the local brickyards, which has been going for 70 years, and has taken that long to build up enough stock to be the main supplier locally now has zero, yes, ZERO bricks in stock. Everything is pre order only @timmycb5
Some roof tiles now have a 48 week lead time. Yes that’s right. An entire fucking year.@timmycb5
Cement and plaster has doubled in price. Some lumber has tripled.@timmycb5
One of the dads, who runs a fairly large firm and employs about 20 people now spends his entire days driving from merchant to merchant just to make sure his staff have materials. He says he can’t trust anyone else to do it, and means he can’t be on site doing his job.

Fixed price quotes are now a thing of the past. No builder (at least not one that wants to make money) is working on any other basis than open book (open cheque book).

This is creating two opposing pressures. The U.K. economy is underpinned by housing/building. @timmycb5

The eye watering increase in cost will inevitably lead to higher house prices, but they’re already so unaffordable that too much of an increase could lead to a collapse.

New planning laws came out on 1st August making it easier to convert the high street to residential. This “should” create a jobs boom, but what it will also do is put an already terrible building material market in an even worse position.

The only two outcomes I can see is 1) a collapse in the housing/property sector, which might be welcomed by those already priced out, but would be terrible for anyone that has bought a house in the last 5 years and crippling for the economy

And could potentially trigger a U.K. ring fenced credit crunch. If that happens, everything will get more expensive for the U.K. Interest rates and inflation would go through the roof. @timmycb5

2) the government will have to fix the supply issue (I.e. do some massive back peddling and grovelling) and get a deal with the EU to completely eradicate all customs and HGV driver issues. Fun times. Ends.

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‘We haven’t been spared, we’re just not counting’: Sudan’s hidden Covid death toll @Telegraph

Many African commentators slammed the prophecies of doom, saying that they were at best misinformed and at worst based on racist stereotypes of the continent as a dark, diseased place incapable of looking after itself. 

“[The projections] were embedded in a shallow understanding of the continent, and a rush to make headlines,” Dr John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Telegraph in October. 
But 18 months on from Africa’s first case, a far more confusing and insidious reality is beginning to emerge in some big countries like Sudan. 
“To say that we as the African continent have been spared the worst is a myth. We’re swimming in these myths. We haven’t been spared the worst. We’re just not counting,” says Dr Dahab.  

“To be counted as a Covid-19 statistic, you need to be rich. You need to be relatively wealthy to be seen. If you’re poor you die, you suffocate unseen.”

A grave digger prepares Al Sahafa Cemetery for more Covid dead CREDIT: Simon Townsley/The Telegraph

Africa is currently reporting a million new infections about every 26 days @ReutersGraphics

9 countries are still at the peak of their infection curve.

Morocco Guinea CAR Burundi Botswana ReUnion at peak Ghana and Mauritania 95% Kenya 89% 

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949,583 Active COVID-19 Cases in Africa @BeautifyData [New record High Print +82.612% above Wave 2 Record High from January 2021]

Active #Covid19 cases record 520,000 was in January 2021 @NKCAfrica

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." - Professor Allen Bartlett

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Senegal’s ambulance teams struggle amid a wave of COVID-19 @AP.

The paramedics get the urgent call at 10:30 p.m.: A 25-year-old woman, eight months pregnant and likely suffering from COVID-19, is now having serious trouble breathing.
Yahya Niane grabs two small oxygen cylinders and heads to the ambulance with his team. 

Upon arrival, they find the young woman’s worried father waving an envelope in front of her mouth, a desperate effort to send more air her way.
Her situation is dire: Niane says Binta Ba needs to undergo a cesarean section right away if they are to save her and the baby. But first they must find a hospital that can take her.
“All the hospitals in Dakar are full so to find a place for someone who is having trouble breathing is very difficult,” he says.
It’s a scenario that has become all too common as Senegal confronts a rapid increase in confirmed coronavirus cases. Instead of motorcycle accidents and heart attacks, the vast majority of ambulance calls in the country’s capital are now COVID-19 cases.
“We have had an influx of calls for respiratory distress,” said Dr. Abdallah Wade, head of the regulation department at SAMU, Senegal’s emergency medical service. 

“We had a few in the first wave, a few in the second wave, but since the beginning of the third wave, 90% of the calls are for respiratory distress.”
During the first year of the pandemic, Senegal was frequently cited as a success story in Africa: 

After quickly closing the country’s airport and land borders, President Macky Sall mandated mask-wearing and temporarily halted interregional travel.
The delta variant, though, has changed all that. While the country of 16 million people received more 500,000 AstraZeneca vaccines through the U.N.-backed COVAX initiative, the demand has now outstripped the supply leaving many still waiting for their second doses.
Hospital beds, too, are in short supply, leaving COVID-19 patients to languish at home while they wait for a spot or until their condition further deteriorates.
“Now there is an overflow of calls and an overflow of patients and very few places available,” said Dr. Mouhamed Lamine Dieng, who works at the emergency services control center trying to triage and place patients.
“The main challenge for the team is to find a place at the right time to save a person before they die,” he said.
Binta Ba, the young expectant mother, ultimately got a spot since her oxygen levels had dropped sharply. 

Doctors estimated that 50% of her lungs had been affected by the virus by the time she made it there.
Doctors delivered her baby girl by cesarean in time. Four days later though, the mother remains on oxygen support in the intensive care unit while hospital workers tend to the newborn.
“There are people who thought that COVID did not exist,” said Djiba Ba, the baby’s grandfather.
“This is because some people denied its existence on social media networks and TV channels,” he said. “I swear to you that COVID is real and that people who refuse to be vaccinated should be punished.”

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Turning To Africa

We are getting closer and closer to the Virilian Tipping Point
“The revolutionary contingent attains its ideal form not in the place of production, but in the street''
any Early Warning System would be warning a Tsunami is coming

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Zambia braced for tight election race ahead of @IMFNews bailout talks @FinancialTimes @jsphctrl

Zambia is bracing for a tight presidential election that will test the health of democracy in the southern African nation and could further delay talks on a vital IMF bailout in the event of a drawn out dispute.
President Edgar Lungu has already sent the army on to the streets ahead of Thursday’s poll after police said two of his supporters were killed in clashes with suspected opposition members. 

Critics accuse Lungu of being ready to rig and intimidate his way to victory over his main opponent, Hakainde Hichilema. The president has rejected the claims.
Voting is likely to go to the wire amid the backdrop of the country’s worst economic crisis in decades. 

Many observers consider it to be the most important election since Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s founding president, was removed in a trailblazing multi-party poll 30 years ago.
Zambia, Africa’s second-largest copper producer, defaulted on $3bn of dollar bonds last year, part of more than $12bn of external debts that turned sour after the government spent heavily on infrastructure projects. 

But negotiations on restructuring have been on hold ahead of the vote.
Zambia needs access to IMF loans as soon as possible after the election as stopgap financing and to catalyse talks with its creditors. 

The fund said in May that “there was broad agreement on the macroeconomic framework”, signalling a deal was close, but that it was waiting for more details on policy reforms.
The livelihoods of ordinary Zambians have already been marked by the fallout from the debt crisis after the government ran out of money to pay its creditors and the borrowing taps were turned off. 

Under Lungu, greater state control of the country’s copper mines, the main export earner, has also hit operational problems despite this year’s surge in prices for the metal.
The Zambian kwacha had tumbled against the US dollar over the past two years, before a partial revival. 

Inflation rose to more than 24 per cent in July. The economy is forecast to grow less than 1 per cent in 2021, according to the IMF, after the pandemic last year plunged Zambia into its first recession since the 1990s.
Lungu, who first won the presidency in a 2015 by-election after the death of the incumbent, has made opening debt-funded airport terminals and power units a cornerstone of his campaign and compared his record with that of Kaunda.
''They’re telling the people, we built this bridge, we built this hospital, so vote for us,” but the hospitals cannot afford nurses or drugs because of the failure to solve the debt crisis, said Ng’andu Magande, a former finance minister

The ruling Patriotic Front “don’t know the purpose of the IMF . . . they don’t know what to do” to negotiate with bondholders, and are “losing friends”, Magande added.
Opposition leader Hichilema, a wealthy businessman, has pledged to prioritise a debt restructuring and to bring foreign investment back to the mines, albeit on terms that he says would favour Zambians. 

When the ruling party first took power a decade ago, Zambia was one of the continent’s fastest-growing economies with a long record of political stability. 
This week’s contest is too close to call and will be “possibly the most unpredictable elections in Zambia yet”, said Zaynab Mohamed, a political analyst for NKC African Economics. “Uncertainty, in turn, raises political tensions.”
Hichilema’s United Party for National Development has had its traditional power base in Zambia’s south and west. 

Lungu’s strongholds are in the north and east. Lusaka, the capital, and the Copperbelt mining heartland are in play and could dictate the outcome, analysts said.
This year marks Hichilema’s sixth run for high office and his third against Lungu, who defeated him with a majority of less than 15,000, barely more than half of the vote, in 2016

If no candidate gains more than 50 per cent this week, a runoff must be held.
The 2016 poll led to a long stand-off that damaged Zambia’s reputation for political stability after Hichilema alleged vote-rigging and was then jailed for several months in 2017 on treason charges.
In the last five years, civil rights have “deteriorated markedly” with “silence and self-censorship” by media and civil society, Amnesty International said this year. 

Last year a teenager was arrested for libel after criticising Lungu on Facebook.
Lungu has dismissed accusations that he is preparing to rig this year’s vote in front of international observers. 

Teams from the African Union and the Commonwealth will be in Zambia for the vote but pandemic restrictions will limit even the number of local observers at polling stations, analysts say.
If Lungu loses, the ruling party has already said that it plans to challenge the result. 
In a country with a median age below 18, the economic frustrations of Zambia’s youth are set to play a big role in the vote.
Kaunda had only a hundred or so graduates to help him build Zambia after independence, but now there are hundreds of thousands struggling to make headway as the economy buckles, said Magande, the former finance minister. 

“The country has no workable plan,” he added. “You just feel so frustrated.”

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Zambian authorities are methodically going through the playbook for stealing this Thursday's election. @AfricaACSS

There is every reason to expect President Lungu to announce victory, but there will be little reason to believe it.

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

The ‘’zeitgeist’’ of the Revolution in Khartoum was intoxicating. 

As I watched events unfold it felt like Sudan was a portal into a whole new norm

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"We are in talks with the Oromo Liberation Army," Debretsion Gebremichael, leader of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), told Reuters by satellite phone.

The move could signal an escalation in the country's nine-month old war and comes a day after the government urged citizens to join the fight against resurgent Tigrayan forces.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.

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9-JUL-2021 :: His Army has been defeated and now he is sending conscripts to slaughter whilst his Adversaries are fighting for their existence.

In the Horn of Africa the Prime Minister of Ethiopia who cloaked his messianic zeal in the language of Mandela 1994 is unlikely to last more than twelve months.

His Army has been defeated and now he is sending conscripts to slaughter whilst his Adversaries are fighting for their existence. 

The Contagion will surely boomerang as far as Asmara and destabilise the Horn of Africa for the forseeable future.
If I could I would be limit short the Ethiopian Birr [It trades at 60 to the $ on the black market]

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Ethiopia’s latest balance of payments release includes hints of eroding capital account strengthen. @NKCAfrica

Should downside risks to trade materialise, the balance of payments and growth environments may face deep shocks.

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CIC Insurance Group Limited reports H1 2021 EPS 0.06 versus [0.13] Earnings
N.S.E Equities - Finance & Investment

Par Value:                  
Closing Price:           3.16
Total Shares Issued:          2615538528.00
Market Capitalization:        8,265,101,748
EPS:             -0.11
PE:                 -28.727
CIC is the leading provider of micro insurance and other financial services

CIC Insurance H1 2021 Earnings through 30th June 2021

HY Gross Written Premium 10.757630b versus 9.283690b +16% 

HY Net Earned Premium 7.141672b versus 7.106264b

HY Investment and Other Income 2.632753b versus 1.201891b

HY Total Income 9.774425b versus 8.308155b +18% 

HY Net claims and policy holder benefits [5.807086b] versus [5.426039b] +7.00%

HY Operating and Other expenses [3.398836b] versus [2.868846b]

HY Total Expenditure [9.205922b] versus [8.294885b]

HY Finance cost [231.755m] versus [302.050m]

HY Profit before Tax 336.748m versus [286.548m]

HY Profit after Tax 259.520m versus [335.531m]

HY EPS 0.06 versus [0.13]

Cash and Cash Equivalents 2.674997b versus 2.069302b

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

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