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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Thursday 09th of September 2021

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“Derivatives,” Alvin said. “I don’t speculate about the future, I trade it.” @NewYorker
World Of Finance

And they were cross‑linked and interwoven and resold in large bundles, “future on future,” Alvin said
“Forget about the forces of the free market, my friend. Commodity prices no longer refer to any value, past or present—they’re just ghosts from the future.”

The Markets Are Wilding

09-MAY-2021 ::  The Lotos-eaters 

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

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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"In order to fabricate, I always need the trampoline of reality." -Mario Vargas Llosa

09-MAY-2021 ::  The Lotos-eaters 

"Courage!" he said, and pointed toward the land, "This mounting wave will roll us shoreward soon."

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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas A savage journey to the heart of the American dream @RollingStone HUNTER S. THOMPSON

We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like “I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive. …” 

And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about 100 miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. 

And a voice was screaming: “Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?”
Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail
Then it was quiet again. My attorney had taken his shirt off and was pouring beer on his chest, to facilitate the tanning process. 

“What the hell are you yelling about?” he muttered, staring up at the sun with his eyes closed and covered with wraparound Spanish sunglasses. 

“Never mind,” I said. “It’s your turn to drive.” 

I hit the brakes and aimed the Great Red Shark toward the shoulder of the highway. No point mentioning those bats, I thought. The poor bxxtard will see them soon enough.

It was almost noon, and we still had more than 100 miles to go. They would be tough miles. Very soon, I knew, we would both be completely twisted. 

But there was no going back, and no time to rest. We would have to ride it out. 

Press registration for the fabulous Mint 400 was already underway, and we had to get there by four to claim our soundproof suite. 

A fashionable sporting magazine in New York had taken care of the reservations, along with this huge red Chevy convertible we’d just rented off a lot on the Sunset Strip … and I was, after all, a professional journalist; so I had an obligation to cover the story, for good or ill.
The sporting editors had also given me $300 in cash, most of which was already spent on extremely dangerous drugs. 

The trunk of the car looked like a mobile police narcotics lab. We had two bags of grass, 75 pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocxxne, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers … and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls.
All this had been rounded up the night before, in a frenzy of high-speed driving all over Los Angeles County – from Topanga to Watts, we picked up everything we could get our hands on. 

Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.
The only thing that really worried me was the ether. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge. 

And I knew we’d get into that rotten stuff pretty soon. Probably at the next gas station. We had sampled almost everything else, and now – yes, it was time for a long snort of ether. 

And then do the next 100 miles in a horrible, slobbering sort of spastic stupor. 

The only way to keep alert on ether is to do up a lot of amyls – not all at once, but steadily, just enough to maintain the focus at 90 miles an hour through Barstow.
“Man, this is the way to travel,” said my attorney. He leaned over to turn the volume up on the radio, humming along with the rhythm section and kind of moaning the words: “One toke over the line … Sweet Jesus … One toke over the line …”
One toke? You poor fool! Wait till you see those goddamn bats. I could barely hear the radio … slumped over on the far side of the seat, grappling with a tape recorder turned all the way up on “Sympathy for the Devil.” 

That was the only tape we had, so we played it constantly, over and over, as a kind of demented counterpoint to the radio. And also to maintain our rhythm on the road. 

A constant speed is good for gas mileage – and for some reason that seemed important at the time. Indeed. 

On a trip like this one must be careful about gas consumption. Avoid those quick bursts of acceleration that drag blood to the back of the brain.
My attorney saw the hitchhiker long before I did. “Let’s give this boy a lift,” he said, and before I could mount any argument he was stopped and this poor Okie kid was running up to the car with a big grin on his face, saying, “Hot damn! I never rode in a convertible before!”
“Is that right?” I said. “Well, I guess you’re about ready, eh?”
The kid nodded eagerly as we roared off.
“We’re your friends,” said my attorney. “We’re not like the others.”
O Christ, I thought, he’s gone around the bend. “No more of that talk,” I said sharply. “Or I’ll put the leeches on you.” 

He grinned, seeming to understand. Luckily, the noise in the car was so awful – between the wind and the radio and the tape machine – that the kid in the back seat couldn’t hear a word we were saying. Or could he?
How long can we maintain? I wondered. How long before one of us starts raving and jabbering at this boy? What will he think then? 

This same lonely desert was the last known home of the Manson family. Will he make that grim connection when my attorney starts screaming about bats and huge manta rays coming down on the car? 

If so – well, we’ll just have to cut his head off and bury him somewhere. Because it goes without saying that we can’t turn him loose. He’ll report us at once to some kind of outback nazi law enforcement agency, and they’ll run us down like dogs.
Jesus! Did I say that? Or just think it? Was I talking? Did they hear me? I glanced over at my attorney, but he seemed oblivious – watching the road, driving our Great Red Shark along at a hundred and ten or so. There was no sound from the back seat.
Maybe I’d better have a chat with this boy, I thought. Perhaps if I explain things, he’ll rest easy.
Of course. I leaned around in the seat and gave him a fine big smile … admiring the shape of his skull.
“By the way,” I said. “There’s one thing you should probably understand.”
He stared at me, not blinking. Was he gritting his teeth?
“Can you hear me?” I yelled.
“That’s good,” I said. “Because I want you to know that we’re on our way to Las Vegas to find the American Dream.” I smiled. “That’s why we rented this car. It was the only way to do it. Can you grasp that?”
He nodded again, but his eyes were nervous.
“I want you to have all the background,” I said. “Because this is a very ominous assignment – with overtones of extreme personal danger. … Hell, I forgot all about this beer; you want one?”
He shook his head.
“How about some ether?” I said.

“Never mind. Let’s get right to the heart of this thing. You see, about 24 hours ago we were sitting in the Polo Lounge of the Beverly Hills Hotel – in the patio section, of course – and we were just sitting there under this palm tree when this uniformed dwarf came up to me with a pink telephone and said, ‘This must be the call you’ve been waiting for all this time, sir.'”
I laughed and ripped open a beer can that foamed all over the back seat while I kept talking. 

“And you know? He was right! I’d been expecting that call, but I didn’t know who it would come from. Do you follow me?”
The boy’s face was a mask of pure fear and bewilderment.
I blundered on: “I want you to understand that this man at the wheel is my attorney! He’s not just some dingbat I found on the Strip. Sxxt, look at him! He doesn’t look like you or me, right? That’s because he’s a foreigner. I think he’s probably Samoan. But it doesn’t matter, does it? Are you prejudiced?”
“Oh, hell no!” he blurted.
“I didn’t think so,” I said. “Because in spite of his race, this man is extremely valuable to me.” I glanced over at my attorney, but his mind was somewhere else.
I whacked the back of the driver’s seat with my fist. “This is important, goddamnit! This is a true story!” 

The car swerved sickeningly, then straightened out. “Keep your hands off my fxxking neck!” my attorney screamed. 

The kid in the back looked like he was ready to jump right out of the car and take his chances.

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“The edge... There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over,” Hunter S Thompson.

The Rolling Stones - Sympathy For The Devil 

When I was 17 we went on a road Trip from London to Toulon with Alex Michaelis, Lin Menuhin, Justin Albert, Edward Roussel & Din Cellan-Jones 

And the only Tape we had was 

The R̲o̲lling S̲to̲nes Tattoo You

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Qatar May Struggle to Deliver the Revamped Taliban it Hyped @bpolitics
Law & Politics

As the Taliban closed in on Kabul and tens of thousands of people overwhelmed its airport, it was the small Gulf state of Qatar that first opened its doors to evacuees, fast establishing itself as the West’s main line of communication to an organization best known for harboring Osama bin Laden.  
The U.S. and U.K. have since moved their Afghanistan embassies to Doha, its critical role lauded by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin -- both visiting this week. 

Yet a relationship painstakingly nurtured over the past decade could quickly become a liability for Qatar if it fails to deliver the world the new-look Taliban it’s tried to nurture; one that’s more hospitable to women and less hospitable to terrorists on the run.
Qatar’s ties to the Taliban and other Islamist groups have long been a source of tension with its neighbors and concern for its Western allies. 

Caught out by the almost immediate collapse of the U.S.-backed government as the last American troops left, Western powers had few other means of contacting the Taliban’s political representatives.
Qatar’s reveled in hosting talks with the Taliban, complete with big backdrops and dramatic lighting, and has gained the trust of its political leaders. 

Some 500 to 600 Taliban members with their families have lived in cosmopolitan Doha, according to a Gulf-based diplomat. 

They include Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the head of the political wing, who has held talks among the skyscrapers, in five-star hotels where Qatar’s modesty rules aren’t strictly observed.
That gave the Taliban a platform to recast itself as more moderate and ready for government via the Qatar-based Al Jazeera television channel. 

And it gave Qatar, which has deftly fostered relations with Iran and Islamist groups while serving as a regional headquarters for U.S. military operations, an opportunity to raise its own stature with its most important strategic ally.

At a press conference in Doha Tuesday, Blinken heaped praise on Qatar for its help in Afghanistan.

 “For years, at our request, you’ve facilitated diplomacy between the Taliban and the Afghan government to try to bring the conflict to a peaceful resolution,” he said.

It’s not clear, however, how Qatar will bridge the gap between the image-conscious leaders it’s hosted and the Taliban’s military wing, which is closer to Pakistan, the longtime political broker next door, and sees less need to accommodate.  

There’s no meeting of minds as there is with Pakistan, Western diplomats say. 

The Qataris have even found Baradar, who is at odds with the Pakistanis, difficult to deal with, according to the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity. 

And Pakistan’s not the only interested party. Landlocked Afghanistan is surrounded by powerful neighbors such as Iran and China, with a more direct interest in its fate than distant Qatar. 

“Qatar is an important conduit between the Taliban and the rest of the world, but does not wield anything like the kind of deep influence on the group that Pakistan does,” said Jane Kinninmont, Middle East analyst at the European Leadership Network. 

“Qatar’s relationship with the Taliban has focused heavily on mediation and international relations. It therefore influences a particular subsection of the Taliban - those that want to engage with the outside world and have pragmatic relationships that will enable them to access aid and trade.”

Western governments have said any engagement with the Afghan regime will be conditional on it allowing safe passage out of Kabul and the flow of humanitarian aid, not becoming a haven for terrorist organizations, respecting human rights and forming an inclusive government.

There’s no evidence, however, that Qatar can influence the Taliban’s approach to the education of women and girls, though the Qatari ruling family has identified that as a priority. 

And while Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani has said his country was working with the Taliban and Turkey to restart operations at Kabul airport, it has yet to persuade the Taliban to accept foreign security staff at the airport, a key sticking point.
The Qatari government did not respond to a request for comment on its relations with the Taliban.
Aware of its own limitations, Qatar has focused less on trying to induce change in the Taliban’s attitude and more on using its deep pockets to buy influence in a region of strategic interest to major powers, said another person familiar with the matter, requesting anonymity to discuss a sensitive issue. 

The world’s top exporter of liquefied natural gas and one of the world’s richest nations, Qatar has financial leverage as well as lobbying clout in Washington that Pakistan lacks. 

That’s become more critical to the Taliban as Western governments and international organizations shy away from supporting a regime that’s yet to prove it’s different to the international pariah of the 1990s.  

If Afghanistan does, again, become a haven for terrorists, Qatar’s ties could quickly become a problem.
Saudi Arabia was castigated for recognizing the Taliban regime of the 1990s, which hosted al-Qaeda before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. 

Today, the Gulf’s hereditary rulers largely view any Islamic political movement as a threat to national security and to their own primacy and watch Qatar’s high-stakes foreign policy with concern.
“Qatar could easily be embarrassed and may want to distance itself from the Taliban or at least from some of its leaders,” Kinninmont said. 

“Some Taliban members are now using language that appeals internationally but it’s unclear if this newfound presentability is much more than a re-branding.” 

20 JAN 20 :: The Intrusion of Middle Powers

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#Doha .. it didn’t bring a peace deal. Some knew it never would. But it did bring moments of hope for a different outcome . #Afghanistan @bbclysedoucet
Law & Politics

22-JUN-2020 :: Whoever Controls The Narrative Controls The World

The Bamiyan Statues 

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

And then I recalled
‘’You remember those twin statues of the Buddha that I told you about? Carved out of a mountain in Afghanistan, that got dynamited by the Taliban back in the spring? Notice anything familiar?" Thomas Pynchon
"Twin Buddhas, twin towers, interesting coincidence, so what." "The Trade Center towers were religious too. They stood for what this country worships above everything else, the market, always the holy fuxxing market." [Thomas Pynchon]

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[The body language of Faiz Hameed!] ISI chief, Faiz Hameed, became first known foreign leader visiting Kabul under Taliban. Courtesy Siamak Herawi @sayedsalahuddin
Law & Politics

Of course, Afghanistan remains a ‘’Ball of fire’’ and chucking the Ball to others to catch is not a Bad Call all things considered.

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However I do believe Taliban 2.0 (how 2.0 I am a little sceptical) are not prepared for Afghanistan 2.0
Law & Politics

Pakistan are more aligned with China I believe than @khuldune is admitting I think  @The_Optics & therefore I don’t see it as an adversarial situation but a collaborative one, 

however I do believe Taliban 2.0 (how 2.0 I am a little sceptical) are not prepared for Afghanistan 2.0

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The PLA Southern Theater Command expelled the US vessel USS Benfold after it illegally entered the South China Sea, command spokesperson said Wed @globaltimesnews
Law & Politics

The PLA Southern Theater Command expelled the US vessel USS Benfold after it illegally entered the South China Sea, command spokesperson said Wed, noting that facts prove that the US is the biggest risk maker in the South China Sea region. (File photo)

23-AUG-2021 ::  There is a fluidity at the Apex of World Power and this brings friction, increases risk and creates ‘’Geopolitical’’ Tail Risks across the spectrum.

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Weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19 - 7 September 2021

The global incidence of COVID-19 cases has remained stable over the month with over 4.4 million new cases reported this week (30 August-5 September). 

During this period, all regions reported either a decline (Regions of Africa, South-East Asia, and the Eastern Mediterranean) or a similar trend (Regions of Europe and the Western Pacific) in new weekly cases, 

except for the Region of the Americas which reported a 19% increase as compared to previous week. 

The number of deaths reported globally this week also remained similar to the previous week, with just under 68 000 new deaths reported. 

The incidence of new deaths declined in all regions apart from the Region of the Americas and Europe where deaths increased by 17% and 20% respectively.

The cumulative number of cases reported globally is now just over 220 million and the cumulative number of deaths is over 4.5 million.

The Regions reporting the highest weekly case and deaths incidence rates per 100 000 population remain the same as last week:

Regions of the Americas (172.4 new cases per 100 000 population; 2.5 deaths per 100 000 population)

Europe (122.8 new cases per 100 000 population; 1.6 deaths per 100 000 population).
The highest numbers of new cases were reported from

United States of America (1 297 399 new cases; 38% increase), 

India (293 643 new cases; 8% increase)

United Kingdom (243 125 new cases; similar to the previous week),

Islamic Republic of Iran (208 089 new cases; 18% decrease)

Brazil (152 154 new cases; 13% decrease).

19-JUL-2021 :: COVID-19


The Virus remains unresolved.

World 606,764 avg COVID cases per day down 7.5% past 2wk.  9,437 Average deaths per day down 4.5% past 2wks.  Global growth trends on decline since start of July. @jmlukens

Weekly Infections snap a 9 week rising sequence


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23-AUG-2021 :: But Holmes was startled. “This virus has gone up three notches in effectively a year and that, I think, was the biggest surprise to me”

But Holmes was startled. “This virus has gone up three notches in effectively a year and that, I think, was the biggest surprise to me”
The 1918–19 influenza pandemic also appears to have caused more serious illness as time went on, says Lone Simonsen, an epidemiologist at Roskilde University who studies past pandemics.

 “Our data from Denmark suggests it was six times deadlier in the second wave.”

“Many still see Alpha and Delta as being as bad as things are ever going to get,” he says. 

“It would be wise to consider them as steps on a possible trajectory that may challenge our public health response further.”
Some dangerous variants may only be possible if the virus hits on a very rare, winning combination of mutations, Eugene Koonin told me. 

“But with all these millions of infected people, it may very well find that combination.” @kakape 

Holmes was startled. “This virus has gone up three notches in effectively a year and that, I think, was the biggest surprise to me”

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The sub-clade with ORF1a L1640P et al is gaining in frequency, but pace has been slow. @trvrb

However, there is a split in Delta diversity with one sub-clade bearing ORF1a mutations L1640P, P2287S, V2930L (among others) and the other bearing ORF1a A3209V The sub-clade with ORF1a L1640P et al is gaining in frequency, but pace has been slow. 

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

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At this point, it seems highly likely that the next impactful variant will emerge as a sub-lineage from within Delta diversity, bearing additional mutations on top of Delta's mutations. @trvrb

Consequently, I would urge that the regulatory process for vaccine updates begin. 12/14

As to the goal of reaching herd immunity— “With the emergence of Delta, I realized that it’s just impossible to reach that,” says Müge Çevik University of St. Andrews. Via @ScienceMagazine @kakape

The SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant is poised to acquire complete resistance to wild-type spike vaccines

We have now crossed peak Vaccine Euphoria

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The Plan to Stop Every Respiratory Virus at Once @TheAtlantic @sarahzhang

When London vanquished cholera in the 19th century, it took not a vaccine, or a drug, but a sewage system. 

The city’s drinking water was intermingling with human waste, spreading bacteria in one deadly outbreak after another. 

A new comprehensive network of sewers separated the two. London never experienced a major cholera outbreak after 1866. 

All that was needed was 318 million bricks, 23 million cubic feet of concrete, and a major reengineering of the urban landscape.

The 19th and early 20th century saw a number of ambitious public-health efforts like this. 

The United States eliminated yellow fever and malaria, for example, with a combination of pesticides, wide-scale landscape management, and window screens that kept mosquitoes at bay. 

One by one, the diseases that people accepted as inevitable facts in life—dysentery, typhoid, typhus, to name a few more—became unacceptable in the developing world. 

But after all this success, after all we’ve done to prevent the spread of disease through water and insects, we seem to have overlooked something. We overlooked air.

This turned out to have devastating consequences for the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The original dogma, you might remember, was that the novel coronavirus spread like the flu, through droplets that quickly fell out of the air. 

We didn’t need ventilation or masks; we needed to wash our hands and disinfect everything we touched. 

But a year and half of evidence has made clear that the tiny virus-laden particles indeed linger in the air of poorly ventilated areas. 

It explains why outdoors is safer than in, why a single infected person can super-spread to dozens of others without directly speaking to or touching them. 

If we are to live with this coronavirus forever—as seems very likely—some scientists are now pushing to reimagine building ventilation and clean up indoor air. 

We don’t drink contaminated water. Why do we tolerate breathing contaminated air?

It’s not just about COVID-19. The scientists who recognized the threat of airborne coronavirus early did so because they spent years studying evidence that—contrary to conventional wisdom—common respiratory illnesses such as the flu and colds can also spread through the air. 

We’ve long accepted colds and flus as inevitable facts of life, but are they? Why not redesign the airflow in our buildings to prevent them, too? 

What’s more, says Raymond Tellier, a microbiologist at McGill University, SARS-CoV-2 is unlikely to be the last airborne pandemic. 

The same measures that protect us from common viruses might also protect us from the next unknown pathogen.

To understand why pathogens can spread through the air, it helps to understand just how much of it we breathe. “About eight to 10 liters a minute,” says Catherine Noakes, who studies indoor air quality at the University of Leeds, in England. 

Think four or five big soda bottles per minute, multiply that by the number of people in a room, and you can see how we are constantly breathing in one another’s lung secretions.

The particles emitted when people cough, talk, or breathe come in a range of sizes. We’ve all been unwittingly sprayed by large droplets of saliva from the mouth of an overenthusiastic talker. 

But smaller particles called aerosols can also form when the vocal cords vibrate to air rushing out from the lungs

And the smallest aerosols come from deep inside the lungs. The process of breathing, says Lidia Morawska, an aerosol scientist at Queensland University of Technology, in Australia, is essentially a process of forcing air through the lungs’ moist passages. 

She compares it to spraying a nebulizer or perfume bottle, in which liquid—lung secretions, in this case—becomes suspended in exhaled air.

Even before SARS-CoV-2, studies of respiratory viruses like the flu and RSV have noted the potential for spread through fine aerosols. 

The tiny liquid particles seem to carry the most virus, possibly because they come from deepest in the respiratory tract.  They remain suspended longest in the air because of their size. 

And they can travel deeper into other people’s lungs when breathed in; studies have found that a smaller amount of influenza virus is needed to infect people when inhaled as aerosols rather than sprayed up the nose as droplets. 

Real-world evidence stretching back decades also has suggested that influenza could spread through the air. 

In 1977, a single ill passenger transmitted the flu to 72 percent of the people on an Alaska Airlines flight. 

The plane had been grounded for three hours for repairs and the air-recirculation system had been turned off, so everyone was forced to breathe the same air.

In official public-health guidance, however, the possibility of flu-laden aerosols still barely gets a mention. The CDC and World Health Organization guidelines focus on large droplets that supposedly do not travel beyond six feet or one meter, respectively. 

(Never mind that scientists who actually study aerosols knew this six-foot rule violated the laws of physics.) 

The coronavirus should get us to take the airborne spread of flu and colds more seriously too, says Jonathan Samet, a pulmonary physician and epidemiologist at the Colorado School of Public Health. 

At the very least, it should spur research to establish the relative importance of different routes of transmission. 

“We had done such limited research before on airborne transmission of common infections,” Samet told me. This just wasn’t seen as a major problem until now.

At the University of Maryland, Donald Milton—one of the few longtime airborne-transmission researchers—is about to embark on a multiyear, controlled trial aimed at understanding influenza. Flu patients and healthy participants will share a room in this study. 

And they will take different precautions, such as hand-washing plus face shields or having good ventilation, which would presumably stop either droplet or aerosol transmission. 

The trial is meant to prove which intervention works the best, and thus which transmission route is dominant. 

When Milton had managed to get funding for a different aerosol study in the 2000s, he said a public-health official told him, 

“We’re funding you to put the nail in the coffin of the idea that aerosols are important.” Now, Milton says, “We’ll find out which direction the nail is being driven here.”

A virus that lingers in the air is an uncomfortable and inconvenient revelation. 

Scientists who had pushed the WHO to recognize airborne transmission of COVID-19 last year told me they were baffled by the resistance they encountered, but they could see why their ideas were unwelcome. 

In those early days when masks were scarce, admitting that a virus was airborne meant admitting that our antivirus measures were not very effective. 

“We want to feel we’re in control. If something is transmitted through your contaminated hands touching your face, you control that,” Noakes said. 

“But if something’s transmitted through breathing the same air, that is very, very hard for an individual to manage.”

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A virulent plague that “travelled through the air as if on wings, it burned through cities like fire”. @MargaretAtwood

 In 1899, a German bacteriologist named Carl Flügge proved that microbes can be transmitted ballistically through large droplets that emit at high velocity from the mouth and nose.“Flügge droplets” @Quillette #COVID19

'It's game over. It's mRNA or nothing:' @YahooFinance 

Bernaert, now head of Health Security Solutions at Swiss-based SICPA, told Yahoo Finance, "I think it's game over. I think it's mRNA or nothing. [Other technology] takes too long."

Bernaert cited these reasons as well. "If success needs to be defined as a function of the agility of a manufacturer to be able to reposition the DNA template for combating the next variant, I don't think the U.S. and Europe will do anything else but buy mRNA vaccines" moving forward, he said.

Whatever the future holds, mRNA is set to dominate. "Viral vector technologies are going to become obsolete," Bernaert said.

28-MAR-2021  we are seeing a sustained acceleration in mutant viruses.

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.1824
Dollar Index 92.63
Japan Yen 109.93
Swiss Franc 0.9198
Pound 1.3792
Aussie 0.7377
India Rupee 73.5615
South Korea Won 1168.05
Brazil Real 5.3221
Egypt Pound 15.7149
South Africa Rand 14.10

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Sri Lanka is facing a severe foreign exchange crisis after the pandemic hit the island nation’s earnings from tourism and remittances, Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa said @economics
Emerging Markets

Sri Lanka is facing a severe foreign exchange crisis after the pandemic hit the island nation’s earnings from tourism and remittances, Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa said.
The government’s revenues were also far short of target as pandemic curbs hurt economic activity, Rajapaksa said during a debate in parliament Tuesday. 

The country is under an extended lockdown amid a record rise in Covid-19 deaths and hospitalizations caused by the delta variant.
The deteriorating reserves position prompted S&P Global Ratings to last month cut Sri Lanka’s rating outlook to negative. 

That helped stoke concerns the nation won’t be able to service $1.5 billion of debt due next year, as well speculation Colombo may turn to the International Monetary Fund for support.
Revenue from tourism has fallen to about $2 million a month this year, from more than $450 million two years ago, according to data from Trading Economics. 

Until recently, travel and tourism accounted for 5% of the $81 billion economy, whose foreign exchange reserves have now depleted to the lowest level since 2009 after repayment of $1 billion of debt in July.

Rajapaksa said Sri Lanka was receiving concessionary funds from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank to help face the pandemic.

“Our policy is to borrow loans with simple and concessionary terms without any conditions that will harm the country’s independence and sovereignty,” he said, without elaborating.
The government earlier this year imposed capital controls as it sought to use its own resources to meet external payment obligations instead of turning to the IMF, whose aid comes with strict conditions. 

Just in case anyone forgot: Sri Lanka is now governed by Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a man so sinister he used to keep a tank of sharks in his garden. Death of the Tiger @newyorker Jon Lee Anderson H/T @jamescrabtree

” After dinner, Gotabaya led us outside. Across his lawn, by the garden’s high security wall, was a huge, illuminated outdoor aquarium. Inside, several large, unmistakable shapes moved relentlessly back and forth.
“Are those sharks?” I asked him.
“Yes,” he said. “Do you want to see them?”
We crossed the lawn and stood in front of the tank, which was eight feet tall and twenty feet wide. There were four sharks, each about four feet long, swimming among smaller fish.

I told Gotabaya that they looked like black-tipped reef sharks. He shrugged. “They’re my wife’s,” he said. She knew everything about them, he explained, but she was away on a visit to the States. 

All he knew was that the tank needed to be changed with fresh seawater every two weeks. 

“They bring it in special tanker trucks,” he said, watching the sharks. He giggled softly.

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Belize Wins First Step Toward an Ocean-Friendly Restructuring
Frontier Markets

Belize struck an agreement in principle with a group of bondholders to buy back its debt at a discount -- but with an unusual, ocean-friendly twist.

Under the accord announced Friday, the Caribbean nation would purchase, redeem and cancel all of its outstanding dollar bonds, the nation’s Ministry of Finance and bondholder group said in statements. 

Belize has about $530 million of its so-called superbond outstanding, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
What is unusual is the financing. The government plans to use money provided by the Nature Conservancy’s blue bond financing program, which will use private capital to help refinance nations’ public debt. 

As part of that program, Belize would enact “durable marine conservation efforts and sustainable marine-based economic activity,” according the government statement.
Belize will also fund a $23.4 million endowment to support future marine conservation projects.
According to the preliminary pact, creditors who tender their bonds before the deadline will receive a cash amount equal to $550 per $1,000 of the outstanding principal of the bonds as of Sept. 1. 

The 2034 bonds were little changed on Friday at 39.9 cents on the U.S. dollar.
It’s a key deal for the serial defaulter, which was downgraded by S&P Global Ratings in May amid doubt the nation would be able to make an interest payment on its superbond due in 2034.

The extra yield investors demand to hold the nation’s sovereign bonds over U.S. Treasuries was 1,630 basis points on Friday, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. data, well above the threshold for debt to be considered in distress.

Belize has a long history of international debt troubles, defaulting on, changing terms on or restructuring its dollar bonds at least five times in the past 14 years. 

The coronavirus and brutal hurricane seasons have made matters worse for the tourism-dependent nation, derailing what had been a nascent economic recovery.

Earlier this year, the government said it was looking to engage bondholders in restructuring negotiations and won approval to push out interest payments, a delay which was recently extended until Sept. 19.

Last year, officials got investor consent to capitalize interest payments on the superbond.

The agreement in principle on Friday was reached with a key creditor committee comprised of Aberdeen Standard Investments, Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. and Greylock Capital Management. 

The group holds about 50% of the outstanding principal amount of the notes.
In order for the deal to go through, Belize will need to win consent from holders of 75% of the outstanding principal. The blue-bond financing will also need to be finalized for the deal to proceed.
The preliminary agreement comes in advance of a formal cash tender offer and consent solicitation. 

If Belize’s offer is fully approved, the amendments will go into effect on the settlement date of Nov. 19, according to the government’s statement.

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WHO regional overviews – Epidemiological week 30 Aug–5 Sep 2021 African Region

The African Region continued to report substantial declines in incidence of both cases and deaths. 

This week the Region reported over 110 000 new cases and over 2800 new deaths, decreases of 25% and 26%, respectively, as compared to the previous week. 

These declining trends for the Region’s third wave are encouraging, and largely driven by continued declines in South Africa. 

Nonetheless, several countries continued to report increasing trends in cases (> 30%) this week while mortality continued to increase, albeit at a lower proportion (>10%) in five countries. 

The highest numbers of new cases were reported from 

South Africa (56 823 new cases; 95.8 new cases per 100 000 population; a 26% decrease)

Ethiopia (8391 new cases; 7.3 new cases per 100 000; a 17% decrease)

Botswana (5524 new cases; 234.9 new cases per 100 000; a 25% decrease).

The highest numbers of new deaths were reported from 

South Africa (1700 new deaths; 2.9 new deaths per 100 000 population; a 23% decrease), 

Algeria (194 new deaths; <1 new death per 100 000; similar to the previous week)

Nigeria (127 new deaths; <1 new death per 100 000; a 26% increase).

19-JUL-2021 :: So, my Point is this, our Attention span is short and Many Folks seem to feel we are in the final Act of the COVID-19 Play. I would be limit short that particular narrative.

Drinking the Kool-Aid 

''viruses exhibit non-linear and exponential characteristics''

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Igad has asked South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir to mediate #Ethiopia conflict with TPLF. @rakidi

PRT While Salva Kiir is mediating the crisis in Ethiopia, it wouldnt at all surprise me if he finds himself facing an uprising which could bring his own government to its knees @Pol_Sec_Analyst

*Holdout rebels accusing Kiir of wanting to start another war The ingredients are all there. @DanielVanDalen5

*Factionalism in the SPLM-IO
*Reports of SPLM-IO attacking SPLM forces
*Civic agitation
*Kiir withdrawing from Rome Talks
*Holdout rebels accusing Kiir of wanting to start another war

The ingredients are all there.

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The #USD has risen sharply against #South_Sudan's pound, from SSP 450 on Sunday to SSP 500 on the black market @PatrickHeinisc1

10 NOV 14 : African youth demographic {many characterise this as a 'demographic dividend"} - which for Beautiful Blaise turned into a demographic terminator

Martin Aglo, a law student from Benin, told Reuters: “After the Arab Spring, this is the Black Spring”.

We need to ask ourselves; how many people can incumbent shoot stone cold dead in such a situation – 100, 1,000, 10,000?
This is another point: there is a threshold beyond which the incumbent can’t go. Where that threshold lies will be discovered in the throes of the event.
The Event is no longer over the Horizon.

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

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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What is clear is that Abiy’s campaign to centralize power in the capital is in tatters.

With many regions seeking more devolution, the conflict threatens the integrity of the state, according to a key Western diplomat, who asked not to be identified citing the sensitivity of the matter.

Abiy’s authority is at serious risk unless he can find a way to force the Tigrayans back. The Nobel peace prize winner has awakened more enemies than just the TPLF.
“We have one thing in common and that is we are fighting the same enemy,” said Kumsa Diriba, the commander-in-chief of the Oromo Liberation Army.

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At the site of the Battle of Abu Klea (#Sudan), 1885. The mounds are Mahdist graves. This was a British victory but was one of only 2 times the British square was broken; the delay meant they arrived too late in Khartoum to save Gordon. @NicholasCogh

At the site of the Battle of Abu Klea (#Sudan), 1885. The mounds are Mahdist graves. This was a British victory (immortalised in "The Four Feathers"), but was one of only 2 times the British square was broken; the delay meant they arrived too late in Khartoum to save Gordon.

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Al-Shabaab says the suicide bomber behind August 24 Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) at a military base in the town of Amaara was Abdirahman Zeynudin, a Kenyan, born and raised in Mombasa. @HarunMaruf

Sep 2012 The Swahili Coast is a Potential TinderBox

Then, last week, on the 27th of August, Aboud Rogo Mohammed was shot on the always busy Bamburi Road, not far from Pirates. This proved the spark that ignited a tinderbox
My concern remains that what appear like uncorrelated spikes and paroxysms of violence conflate, become more broad based and amplify.

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

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