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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Tuesday 14th 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.”

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Zanzibar in the 1900s @rhaplord

I finally read Afterlives by Abdulrazak Gurnah which was beautiful lyrical luminous and insightful. 

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Afterlives by Abdulrazak Gurnah review – living through colonialism @guardian @MaazaMengiste

German colonial rule was brutal, as colonial enterprises were; in an arena known for its oppression and violence, it is Germany that perpetrated the first genocide of the 20th century in the 1904 extermination campaign to quell the Herero and Nama uprising in Namibia. 

Across the continent in East Africa, or Deutsch-Ostafrika, Germany’s military tactics were equally deadly. 

Abdulrazak Gurnah’s sprawling yet intimate new novel Afterlives is set against the backdrop of these atrocities. 

Unfolding in what was then Tanganyika, now mainland Tanzania, it opens with a gentle and unassuming sentence: “Khalifa was twenty-six years old when he met the merchant Amur Biashara.”

The way "one story contains many and how they belong not to us but are part of the random currents of our time, and about how stories capture us and entangle us for all time"

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Review: A Reckoning with East Africa’s Colonial Histories – Abdulrazak Gurnah’s ‘Afterlives’

‘Taking up where his 1994 Booker finalist novel Paradise left off, Abdulrazak Gurnah transports his readers back to the First World War in his latest novel Afterlives.

This coming-of-age novel follows the unanchored adolescent lives of Ilyas, Hamza and Afiya disrupted by the war in the early twentieth century, and interrogates the personal and political cost of rebellion.’ (Africa Writes — Exeter Book Club)

German colonial history remains little explored in fiction. 

Since the 1880s, Kaiser Wilhelm II, grandson of Queen Victoria, had the ambition to secure what was then termed Germany’s ‘Platz and der Sonne’, its place in the sun, Von Bülow’s infamous phrase in praise of Germany’s expansionist colonial policies. 

In popular historical discourse of German colonialism, attention tends to focus more on Deutsch-Südwestafrika, now independent Namibia, and especially the 1904-08 genocide of the Herero, Sana and Namaqua people by the local Schutztruppe, the German colonial troops. 

On the African continent, Germany’s colonial empire included Cameroon (1885-1916), Togo (1884-1914), and Deutsch Ostafrika (German East Africa) (1885-1918), which comprised modern-day Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda. 

Notable in these dates is that Germany loses control of its colonies at the beginning and during the First World War.

Afterlives is set in the run up to, during and after this world-encompassing conflict. The story revolves around Ilyas, Hamza and Afiya. 

Both Hamza and Ilyas are recruited into the Schutztruppe askari, the infantry division of German colonial forces in German colonies on the African continent. 

While Gurnah tackles world historical events which deeply impact his characters’ lives, he is equally interested and focused on their everyday experiences. 

The novel teems with striking descriptions of Afiya’s daily chores, or Hamza’s ordinary day, working as a carpenter after his return from the First World War:

‘Hamza broke fast with Khalifa on the porch where in the traditional way they shared a few dates and a cup of coffee and were then called inside to the modest feast Bi Asha and Afiya had prepared and which they sat down to eat with the men. 

It was not the quantity but the variety of dishes that made it into a feast, and they talked about the food and praised its preparation as they ate. 

Even Bi Asha was more mellow than she had been in the past and found teasing words to say to Hamza about his growing skills as a carpenter and his newfound fame as a reader of German.’ (195)

Aftermaths as much as afterlives, then, become a driving narrative force in this novel — structured around memories, often painful, and shaped by traumatic experiences of violence. 

In that sense we encounter characters who are engaged in a process of rebuilding their lives, of their instinct for survival, of wanting to live and find reasons to carry on, and to seek contentment in the ordinariness of life. 

This is best exemplified by the slowly developing courtship, romance and eventual marriage of Afiya and Hamza, lyrically and tenderly described. 

It is here where Schiller’s Romantic poetry, translated by Hamza for Afiya from German acquires new resonances. 

Hamza is initially tutored by his German commanding officer to read German and is gifted Schiller’s  Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1798. 

He then goes on to transcribe and translate some of these poems for her: “He wrote them out on the piece of paper he had stolen from Nassor Biashara’s office, trimmed it so that it was only just big enough for the verse, then folded it so it was no wider than two fingers. He knew how it would look if this scrap of paper were intercepted.” (192)

This novel is also one of interstices, enmeshed in the brutal experience of German colonialism as well as the aftermath of that experience, as much of German East Africa is placed under British administration as a League of Nations mandate and renamed Tanganyika after the war. 

In that respect, Gurnah also explores the multiple shifts in European territorial inscriptions on the African continent after the First World War.

In Afterlives we can trace a number of recurring themes from Gurnah’s previous work. 

On the one hand, there is the novel’s explorations of memory, trauma and loss, and on the other, further explorations of the innocence of childhood and how adolescence and early adulthood are shaped by experiences of a brutal system of oppression, be it in the military or by association with merchants and traders. 

Here especially, Afterlives reads like a pertinent follow-up and companion volume to his 1994 Booker Prize short-listed Paradise. 

For example, Yusuf’s journeys to the interior from the coastal regions, its pre-war setting and its elements of Bildungsroman, and the way in which Gurnah confronts his readers with the complexities of layered cross-cultural experiences and encounters very much resonate.  

In Paradise the German colonial rulers’ callousness and cruelty is relayed as rumour and hearsay; in Afterlives  it is firmly brought into view.

As Afterlives moves through time from the immediate aftermath of the war through the 1920s, into the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s, the question of what happened to Afiya’s brother, Ilyas, who, like Hamza is a former Schutztruppe askari, becomes the major narrative driver. 

The process of how his fate is revealed through snippets of information highlights the importance of artefacts and the archives — letters, diaries, chance encounters, and of course official records. 

This enables Gurnah in the final reel, now in post-Second World War Germany, to fully reveal Ilyas’s story of settlement and life and his brutal treatment in Nazi Germany. 

Here, there are perhaps some analogies with the life of Bayume Mohamed Husen, a former Askari who settled in Berlin, first working as a waiter, then as a bit-part film actor.

Gurnah is unsparing in his detailing of violence and colonial atrocities. What makes this historical novel a tour de force is that it unflinchingly brings to life in fiction the reality of a colonial experience, of which many in Germany show little awareness or an unwillingness to fully confront it. 

The brutalising system of the Schutztruppe askari so callously deployed by German colonial authorities across their empire is brought into sharp relief here. 

They are described “a highly experienced force of destructive power. They were proud of their reputation for viciousness, and their officers and the administrators of Deutsch-Ostafrika loved them to be just like that” (8)

These descriptions are often delivered by the omniscient narrator with matter of fact sobriety, crystalline in the outlining of the system of cruelty designed by the German colonial administrators and officers, and reinforced through the interactions and exchanges between characters, relaying in dialogue the details of atrocities and consequent reputation of the askari. 

This enables Gurnah to explore in depth the systematic brutalisation of the askari themselves, their impact on the local population, the aftermath of the experience of the war on his two central characters, and the legacies of the First World War in East Africa.

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If this happens, Militarily, the PLA fighter jets will surely fly over the island, and start to patrol Taiwan. @HuXijin_GT
Law & Politics

If this happens, diplomatically, China will at least recall its ambassador to the US. Economically, it will shift from “preferential policies” for Taiwan to full-scale sanctions. Militarily, the PLA fighter jets will surely fly over the island, and start to patrol Taiwan.

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Why is the universe so uncannily, so eerily, so terribly quiet? Because in the dark forest, anything that makes a sound gets eaten. H/T @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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North Korea test-fired a cruise missile over the weekend, state media reported Monday morning, a move that looks both brilliantly timed and cleverly calibrated @asiatimesonline
Law & Politics

The missiles are “a strategic weapon of great significance” and flew 1,500 km (930 miles) before hitting their targets and falling into the country’s territorial waters during the tests on Saturday and Sunday, North Korea’s Korea Central News Agency, or KCNA, reported Monday.
Also on Monday, senior diplomats from Japan, South Korea and the United States were scheduled to meet in Tokyo to discuss North Korea.

UN Security Council resolutions ban North Korea from owning or testing ballistic missile technologies – a wide definition that extends to satellite launch vehicles – but cruise missiles are permitted. 

Ballistic missiles fly in a parabola while cruise missiles fly in a flat trajectory, often hugging terrain or ocean.
KCNA images showed a cruise missile being fired from a road-based vehicle, rather than from a base facility. 

Mobility of weapons, thanks to the related ability to disperse and hide them, upgrades their survivability.
The stated range puts all of South Korea and Japan – including such key US bases as Pyongytaek in Korea and Yokosuka and Okinawa in Japan – within range.
But it is the adjective “strategic” that leaps off the page.

“What makes this test provocative is North Korea’s public statement that these cruise missiles are a ‘strategic’ weapon, implying an intention to miniaturize nuclear warheads to fit on them,” said Leif-Eric Easley, an associate professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.

Pyongyang’s move comes just four days after it held a midnight civil-military parade, and six days after South Korea successfully test-fired a domestically produced ballistic missile from a submerged submarine – the first non-nuclear state ever to do so.

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18 SEP 17 :: "A screaming comes across the sky" North Korea.
Law & Politics

Gravity’s Rainbow is a 1973 novel by Thomas Pynchon which is about the design, production and dispatch of V-2 rockets by the German military. 

In particular, it features the quest undertaken by several characters to uncover the secret of a mysterious device named the “Schwarzgerät” (black device), slated to be installed in a rocket with the serial number “00000”. 

As the world watches PyongYang, I cannot help wondering if Kim Jong-Un has read Pynchon which speaks of “A screaming comes across the sky” and 
“But it is a curve each of them feels, unmistakably. It is the parabola. They must have guessed, once or twice -guessed and refused to believe -that everything, always, collectively, had been moving toward that purified shape latent in the sky, that shape of no surprise, no second chance, no return.’’

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Whoever Controls The Narrative Controls The World
Law & Politics

The Pandemic and Political Order @ForeignAffairs @FukuyamaFrancis
Another reason for pessimism is that the positive scenarios assume some sort of rational public discourse and social learning.
Yet the link between technocratic expertise and public policy is weaker today than in the past, when elites held more power.
The democratization of authority spurred by the digital revolution has flattened cognitive hierarchies along with other hierarchies, and political decision-making  is now driven by often weaponized babble.
That is hardly an ideal environment for constructive, collective self-examination, and some polities may remain irrational longer than they can remain solvent

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Here’s What the Next Six Months of the Pandemic Will Bring COVID-19 @business

for anyone hoping to see light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel over the next three to six months, scientists have some bad news: Brace for more of what we’ve already been through.
Outbreaks will close schools and cancel classes. Vaccinated nursing home residents will face renewed fears of infection. Workers will weigh the danger of returning to the office as hospitals are overwhelmed, once again.

Almost everyone will be either infected or vaccinated before the pandemic ends, experts agree. Maybe both

An unlucky few will contract the virus more than once. The race between the waves of transmission that lead to  new variants and the battle to get the globe inoculated won’t be over until the coronavirus has touched all of us. 

“I see these continued surges occurring throughout the world,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and an adviser to U.S. President Joe Biden. 

“Then it will drop, potentially somewhat precipitously,” he said. “And then I think we very easily could see another surge in the fall and winter” of this year, he added. 

With billions of people around the world yet to be vaccinated and little chance now of eliminating the virus, we can expect more outbreaks in classrooms, on public transport and in workplaces over the coming months, as economies push ahead with reopening. 

Even as immunization rates rise, there will always be people who are vulnerable to the virus: Newborn babies, people who can’t or won’t get inoculated, and those who get vaccinated but suffer breakthrough infections as their protection levels ebb. 

The next few months will be rough. One key danger is if a vaccine-resistant variant develops, although it is not the only risk ahead

In the coming months, Bloomberg will explore the pandemic’s long-term impact on economies and markets, the pharmaceutical industry, travel and more.

“We’re going to see hills and valleys, at least for the next several years as we get more vaccine out. That’s going to help. But the challenge is going to be: How big will the hills and valleys be, in terms of their distance?” Osterholm said

“We don’t know. But I can just tell you, this is a coronavirus forest fire that will not stop until it finds all the human wood that it can burn.”

The five well-documented influenza pandemics of the past 130 years offer some blueprint for how Covid might play out, according to Lone Simonsen, an epidemiologist and professor of population health sciences at Roskilde University in Denmark. She is an expert on the ebb and flow of such events.

While the longest global flu outbreak lasted five years, they mostly consisted of two to four waves of infection over an average of two or three years, she said

Covid is already shaping up to be among the more severe pandemics, as its second year concludes with the world in the middle of a third wave — and no end in sight. 

It’s possible that the virus known as SARS-CoV-2 won’t follow the path set by the pandemics of the past. 

After all, it is a different, novel and potentially more transmissible pathogen.

 And with a death toll of more than 4.6 million people so far, it’s already more than twice as deadly as any outbreak since the 1918 Spanish flu.

Despite brutal initial waves and relatively high vaccination rates, countries including the U.S., U.K., Russia and Israel are flirting with record numbers of cases. 

Immunization is helping to moderate incidences of severe cases and deaths, but surging infections mean the virus is reaching the young and others who remain unvaccinated, leading to rising rates of serious disease in those groups.

Nations where vaccination has been sparse — including Malaysia, Mexico, Iran and Australia — are in the midst of their biggest outbreaks yet, fueled by the contagious delta strain. 

With the virus still spreading out of control in vast swathes of the planet, another novel variant could quite feasibly emerge.
History shows the commonly held belief that viruses automatically get milder over time — to avoid completely wiping out their host population — is wrong, according to Simonsen. 

Although new mutations aren’t always more severe than their predecessors, “pandemics can in fact get more deadly during the pandemic period, as the virus is adapting to its new host,” she said.
Early in the Covid outbreak, there was good reason to hope that vaccines would provide long-term protection, much like childhood shots that stop diseases such as polio. 

Coronaviruses have a “proof-reading” mechanism that fixes the in-born errors caused when the virus replicates, reducing the likelihood of variants emerging when the virus is transmitted from one person to another.
The number of global cases has been so vast, however, that mutations are occurring anyway.
“With the pandemic, we have this enormous force of infection,” said Kanta Subbarao, director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Reference and Research on Influenza at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Melbourne. 

“That has counterbalanced the ability of the virus to proof-read.”
As a result, Covid could be like the flu, requiring regular vaccine top-ups to remain effective as the virus evolves.
Some researchers say SARS-CoV-2 is poised to become completely resistant to the first generation of vaccines. 

A study from Japan, which has yet to be published or peer-reviewed, suggests that potentially dangerous mutations in the delta variant are already being picked up in a global database used to track such developments

Reports of current strains breaking through vaccinations or triggering higher fatality rates have not held up to rigorous scrutiny thus far.

“This is a scenario we hope won’t happen,” Simonsen said. “My God, we would have to do it all again.”

Other even grimmer possibilities for the coming months include the emergence of a novel influenza virus or another coronavirus making the leap from animals into humans.
“As long as there are animal reservoirs of coronavirus there is still the possibility that another zoonotic coronavirus could emerge in the future,” Subbarao said. 

“There is that in the background, the risk of still dealing with this one when another one emerges.”
How Will Covid End?
What seems clear is that the pandemic will not be over in six months. 

Experts generally agree that the current outbreak will be tamed once most people — perhaps 90% to 95% of the global population — have a degree of immunity thanks to immunization or previous infection.
The key element should be vaccination, they say.
“Without vaccination, one is like a sitting duck, because the virus will spread widely and find most everybody this autumn and winter,” said Simonsen. 

More than 5.66 billion doses of vaccine have been administered around the world, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker. 

But the success of rollouts in some regions, such as the European Union, North America and China, masks the failure in others. 

Most countries in Africa have only given enough vaccine to cover less than 5% of their populations with a two-dose shot. India has administered enough to cover only about 26%.
The pandemic will end at different times in different places, just as previous outbreaks have, said Erica Charters, associate professor of the history of medicine at Oxford University and the coordinator of a project on how epidemics end. 

Governments will have to decide how much of the disease they are comfortable living with, she said.
Approaches vary. While some countries are still shooting for zero Covid cases, the world is unlikely to eradicate the virus completely.
Nations like Denmark and Singapore, which have managed to keep cases relatively contained, are already moving toward a post-pandemic future with fewer safety restrictions. 

Others, such as the U.S. and U.K., are opening up even as infection numbers near records. 

Meanwhile, China, Hong Kong and New Zealand have vowed to keep vigilantly working to eliminate the virus locally. 

As a result, they are likely to be among the last places to leave behind the disruption wrought by walling out the pandemic.

“The end process is not going to be uniform,” Charters said. The pandemic “is a biological phenomenon, but it’s also a political and social phenomenon.” 

“Even now we have different approaches to it.”
It’s likely to be messy, leaving a lasting legacy for years to come. 

Until then, most of us will need to brace for many more months in the pandemic’s grip.
“We have to approach it with our eyes wide open and with a great deal of humility,” Osterholm said. 

“Anybody that thinks we're going to be over this in the next few days or a few months is sorely mistaken.”

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.

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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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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

―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

#COVID19 is the number 1 cause of death globally this week. @AliHMokdad

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.1815
Dollar Index 92.616
Japan Yen 110.06
Swiss Franc 0.92185
Pound 1.3844
Aussie 0.7340
India Rupee 73.6068
South Korea Won 1170.92
Brazil Real 5.2146
Egypt Pound 15.7111
South Africa Rand 14.15329

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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.

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

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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World Of Finance

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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Aluminum Hits $3,000 for First Time in 13 Years on Supply Snarl @markets

Aluminum reached $3,000 a ton in London for the first time in 13 years amid expectations that supply disruptions are here to stay, while demand keeps rising.  

The metal kept climbing Monday after advancing 15% over the last three weeks. 

Chinese output is down amid drives to reduce emissions and conserve power, while a coup in bauxite producer Guinea has raised concerns over the supply of the material used in aluminum production. 

Smelters in the European Union are also facing rising costs with both carbon credit and power inputs at record highs, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said.

“In China and increasingly in the EU, policy risk to aluminum supply is growing,” Goldman analysts including Jeff Currie said in a note released Monday. 

While the bank doesn’t see the recent coup in Guinea as materially impacting bauxite, upside risks remain as regional tensions could generate further logistical bottlenecks, they said.

Snarled supplies will dog the industry through the rest of this year and most of 2022, according to many participants at the Harbor Aluminum Summit in Chicago, with some projecting it could take as long as five years to resolve the issues. 

The energy-intensive metal has risen by around two-thirds over the past year.

Aluminum climbed as much as 2.6% to $3,000 a ton, the highest intraday level since 2008, on the London Metal Exchange. It traded at $2,992.50 as of 7:09 a.m. in London. 

In China, the metal surged as much as 5.4% to 23,790 yuan, the highest since 2006. Other base metals were mainly lower, with zinc falling 0.9% in London.

Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd., the country’s largest smelter, surged as much as 12% in Hong Kong on Monday. 

Chinese material equities may see a further re-rating as more government moves to curb steel production to cut emissions could boost prices for cement, steel and aluminum, Citigroup Inc. analyst Jack Shang said in a note.

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How the mighty have fallen When your fall from grace is captured on camera @mailandguardian @thecontinent_ @simonallison

It is not, by any normal measure, a particularly good photograph. The lighting is all wrong. The resolution is poor. The framing is not balanced. 

And yet, of the thousands upon thousands of photographs that exist of Alpha Condé, this is the one by which he will be forever defined.
It shows the Guinean president – the former president – in the immediate aftermath after the military coup which deposed him on Sunday. 

Surrounded by heavily armed soldiers, Condé is slouched on a couch. His shirt is buttoned up all wrong and he is clearly seething. 

The photo is so compelling because it captures the very moment when Condé realises that everything he has ever worked for has been taken away from him; that the power which he has fought so hard to keep is no longer his.
He has fallen from grace, and this extraordinarily intimate image – stripped of all the pomp and ceremony and grandeur of your typical presidential photograph – is proof of just how far he has fallen.
Condé is not the first president, and he will not be the last, to have his humiliation captured on camera for the world to see. 

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"The #COVID19 third wave in #Africa has taken a downwards slide, with a 23% decrease in new cases last week, driven largely by countries in Northern and Southern Africa" - Dr @MoetiTshidi @WHOAFRO

"The #COVID19 third wave in #Africa has taken a downwards slide, with a 23% decrease in new cases last week, driven largely by countries in Northern and Southern Africa. That’s the steepest drop in eight weeks since the peak in July." - Dr @MoetiTshidi

Drinking the Kool-Aid 

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Many media outlets and pharmaceutical executives claim that Africa has not been badly hit by Covid-19. The evidence shows the opposite is true. @thecontinent_ Laura López González

The world has used a lack of data to tell itself that Africa has emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic relatively unscathed. 

It is a dangerous and deeply rooted fiction – and a tacit justification for one of this century’s darkest moments

a recent Time magazine headline read, “Why Africa’s Covid-19 outbreak hasn’t been as bad as everyone feared.”

In Africa, there’s absolutely no data to say the continent has been spared. In fact, Professor Tom Moultrie, a demographer from the University of Cape Town, thinks the notion should be retired altogether.
“The reason why we think there’s no Covid in much of Africa is simply because we don’t know where to find those deaths... that doesn’t at all mean to say that they are not happening,” Moultrie told The Continent.

Moultrie tracks uncounted Covid-19 deaths in South Africa. “I buy the argument that we have a younger population, but that is not enough. Without hard evidence built off reliable data from health and vital registration systems and reasonably large sample sizes of testing and mortality tracking, we simply cannot say that Africa has been spared.”

We also may never know Covid-19’s true body count in Africa for two reasons: A lack of testing and a dearth of records.

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

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

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Deal allowing Russian mercenaries into Mali is close - sources @Reuters

A deal is close that would allow Russian mercenaries into Mali, extending Russian influence over security affairs in West Africa and triggering opposition from former colonial power France, seven diplomatic and security sources said.
Paris has begun a diplomatic drive to prevent the military junta in Mali enacting the deal, which would permit Russian private military contractors, the Wagner Group, to operate in the former French colony, the sources said.
A European source who tracks West Africa and a security source in the region said at least 1,000 mercenaries could be involved. Two other sources believed the number was lower, but did not provide figures.
Four sources said the Wagner Group would be paid about 6 billion CFA francs ($10.8 million) a month for its services. 

One security source working in the region said the mercenaries would train Malian military and provide protection for senior officials.
Reuters could not confirm independently how many mercenaries could be involved, how much they would be compensated, or establish the exact objective of any deal involving Russian mercenaries would be for Mali's military junta.
Reuters was unable to reach the Wagner Group for comment.

Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, who media outlets including Reuters have linked to the Wagner Group, denies any connection to the firm.
His press service also says on its social networking site Vkontakte that Prigozhin has nothing to do with any private military company, has no business interests in Africa and is not involved in any activities there.
His press service did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment for this story.

28 OCT 19 ::  From Russia with Love

“Our African agenda is positive and future-oriented. We do not ally with someone against someone else, and we strongly oppose any geopolitical games involving Africa.”

In Moscow’s offer for Africa are mercenaries, military equipment, mining investments, nuclear power plants, and railway connections.
“Russia regards Africa as an important and active participant in the emerging polycentric archi- tecture of the world order and an ally in protecting international law against attempts to undermine it,” said Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov back in November 2018.

Andrew Korybko writes Moscow invaluably fills the much-needed niche of providing its partners there with “Democratic Security”, or in other words, the cost-effective and low-commitment capabilities needed to thwart colour revolutions and resolve unconventional Wars (collectively referred to as Hybrid War).
To simplify, Russia’s “political technologists” have reportedly devised bespoke solutions for confronting incipient and ongoing color revolutions, just like its private military contractors (PMCs) have supposedly done the same when it comes to ending insurgencies.

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War between Tigray's forces and Federal forces, backed by Eritrea, is set to drag on for several more months. Both sides claim they are inflicting ever heavier military losses on the other after an upsurge of fighting in recent weeks. @Africa_Conf

February 1st 2021 ‘The genie out of the bottle’ @AfricanBizMag

It’s impossible for the state to manage a guerrilla war up there and at the same time manage to control the rest of the country.

As a reminder, this was the scene in Mekele last New Year's Eve, as we awaited results of the disputed regional elections: @rcoreyb

'War makes for bitter men. Heartless and savage men,” Abiy said in his Nobel prize lecture. @FT @davidpilling 

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.

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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.@RonySeikaly - Rajeh Yittammar (Revolution Radio Mix)

Turning to Africa

We are getting closer and closer to the Virilian Tipping Point

Political leadership in most cases complet

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Angola State Oil Firm Posts $3 Billion Loss in ‘Abnormal’ 2020 @markets

The state energy company of Angola, Africa’s second-biggest oil producer, posted a $3 billion loss last year after demand cratered following coronavirus-induced lockdowns across the world.
The loss, the biggest in at least 10 years, compares with a net income of $125 million in 2019. 

The company had a “drastic reduction in revenue from sales of crude oil,” Sonangol, as the firm is called, said in a statement on its website. 

The Luanda-based Sonangol called 2020 an “abnormal year” due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Angola, which relies on oil for more than 90% of its exports, has been struggling to recover from the 2014-2016 collapse in prices. 

It has also not been able to boost investments, needed to increase production from its aging fields. 

For about two months in 2020, none of the company’s rigs were producing oil, State Secretary for Petroleum Jose Barroso said last week.

The country aims to keep production above 1.1 million barrels a day in coming years, Barroso said. 

That’s almost half of Angola’s 2-million-barrel-a-day target when it joined the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in 2007.
Sonangol, the economic engine of Angola’s oil-dependent economy, is selling stakes in dozens of companies as part of a restructuring process that is expected to culminate with an initial public offering of shares by 2027.

The company’s revenue dropped 25% to 3.3 trillion kwanzas ($5.2 billion) last year.

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Fruit pickers are being flown up to 6,000 miles to the UK from Barbados, Nepal, Tajikistan, Kenya, the Philippines and elsewhere because farms cannot find British or European workers @thesundaytimes

More than 16,000 labourers from 37 countries were recruited by horticultural farmers this year on seasonal workers’ visas, according to an analysis of Home Office data. 

In 2020, just 7,000 workers from 14 countries came to Britain.
Farmers said this was a sign of their ever-increasing struggle to recruit enough workers, with some crops left to rot in fields this year and growers forced to consider scaling back production.
In 2019, the government began a seasonal workers’ visa pilot scheme that allowed fruit and vegetable farmers to recruit labourers from anywhere in the world. 

This scheme was expanded from 10,000 in 2020 to 30,000. Before Brexit, most of these seasonal visas were used to hire workers from eastern Europe.

Fruit pickers in the UK can earn up to £20 an hour.

“Local people don’t want to start early. They don’t want to work in fields. If the seasonal workers’ pilot does not continue, the horticulture industry in the UK is finished. It’s that serious.”

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“The increase in forex reserves is due to the infrastructure bond inflows,” @DollyOgutu
Kenyan Economy

Massive dollar flows chasing the tax-free infrastructure bond whose sale closed last week helped push up Kenya’s official forex reserves by 8.4% to Sh1.06 trillion ($9.63 billion). “The increase in forex reserves is due to the infrastructure bond inflows,”

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

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