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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Monday 08th of November 2021

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The Namib Desert (from which Namibia takes its name) is one of the world’s oldest deserts – some 55-80 million years. @africageo

The word “Namib” has its origins in the Khoekhoe language and essentially translates as “vast place”. 

Sossusvlei is perhaps Namibia’s most famous landmark and is undoubtedly one of the most photographed places in sub-Saharan Africa – for good reason. 

It is an endorheic drainage basin for the Tsauchab River, with “Sossusvlei” roughly translating as “no return” or “dead-end marsh”. 

The salt and clay pan is surrounded by spectacular dunes, coloured bright red and orange by oxidised iron. 

The Tsauchab River is ephemeral, and years of dry can pass before it flows, filling the bottom of the pan with precious but short-lived water.

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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
Law & Politics

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 eventually 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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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.
Law & Politics

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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T-DAY The Battle for Taiwan @Reuters @SpecialReports
Law & Politics

China’s quest to rule Taiwan has already begun with a campaign of “gray-zone” warfare. Here is how military strategists believe the struggle might play out.

Seventy-two years ago, the Communist Party seized control of China after a bloody struggle. 

The defeated Nationalist government fled to Taiwan, frustrating Beijing's desire to capture the island. 

Since then, China has arisen as a superpower rivaling America; Taiwan has blossomed into a self-governing democracy and high-tech powerhouse with Washington's backing. 

Now, after decades of tenuous stalemate, there is a renewed risk of conflict. While it is impossible to know how this long rivalry will play out, in some respects the battle for Taiwan is already underway.

As Reuters reported in December, the Chinese military – the People’s Liberation Army – is waging so-called gray-zone warfare against Taiwan. This consists of an almost daily campaign of intimidating military exercises, patrols and surveillance that falls just short of armed conflict. 

Since that report, the campaign has intensified, with Beijing stepping up the number of warplanes it is sending into the airspace around Taiwan. China has also used sand dredgers to swarm Taiwan’s outlying islands.

Military strategists tell Reuters that the gray-zone strategy has the potential to grind down Taipei’s resistance – but also that it may fall short, or even backfire by strengthening the island’s resolve. 

They are also envisioning starker futures. While they can’t predict the future, military planners in China, Taiwan, the United States, Japan and Australia are nonetheless actively gaming out scenarios for how Beijing might try to seize the prized island, and how Taiwan and America, along with its allies, might move to stop it.

China has a range of tactics it might adopt, military experts say. They all carry risk for President Xi Jinping and his ruling Communist Party. 

They also pose different challenges for Taiwan and for the United States and its allies, principally Japan. 

Xi’s options include seizing Taiwan’s outlying islands, blockades or all-out invasion. 

Some Taiwanese military experts say Beijing's next step might be to seize the lightly defended and remote Pratas Islands in the north of the South China Sea.  Any of these moves could spin out of control into war between China and America over Taiwan.

This report examines some of the conflict scenarios. It is based on interviews with close to a dozen military strategists and 15 current and former military officers from Taiwan, the United States, Australia and Japan. 

Some serving officers spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity. The report also draws on articles in U.S., Chinese and Taiwanese military and professional journals and official publications. 

In places, we have provided links to published articles and documents that shed light on Chinese, Taiwanese and U.S. thinking.

These scenarios are, by their very nature, speculative. They are not predictions by Reuters of events to come. 

There is no certainty that real conflict would follow any of these trajectories. And hostilities may not erupt at all. But with tensions high, accident or miscalculation could become a catalyst for clashes at any time.

“For all sides the stakes are enormous,” said Ian Easton, a senior director of the Project 2049 Institute in Arlington, Virginia, and author of “The Chinese Invasion Threat,” a 2017 book which lays out the challenges the PLA faces in mounting an invasion and how Taiwan might respond. 

“A life and death game is underway, and none of the players have any way of knowing how it will end.”

A China foreign ministry spokesperson said the ministry would not comment on “hypothetical reports.” But the spokesperson added that the ruling party in Taiwan and ‘“Taiwan independence’ elements, in collusion with external forces, are constantly engaging in provocations by seeking ‘independence,’ which is the root cause of the current tense and turbulent situation in the Taiwan Strait.”

Today, under Xi Jinping, China is flashing impatience with Taiwan’s unwillingness to submit to Beijing’s rule. Xi says China’s aim is peaceful unification, but has pointedly refused to rule out the use of force.

Chinese control of Taiwan would dramatically reinforce the Communist Party’s prestige at home and eliminate the island as a viable model of a democratic alternative to authoritarian Party rule. 

It would also give China a foothold in the so-called first island chain, the line which runs through the string of islands from the Japanese archipelago to Taiwan, the Philippines and Borneo, which enclose China’s coastal seas.

For Beijing, success would translate into a commanding strategic position in Asia, undermining the security of Japan and South Korea, and allowing China to project power into the Western Pacific. 

But Beijing also has an incentive to be cautious: If America and its allies intervened against a takeover attempt, they could inflict heavy losses on an untested Chinese military that has not fired a shot in anger for decades. Defeat could weaken the Party’s hold on power.

For the American alliance, a Chinese takeover of Taiwan would be a devastating blow. At a stroke, the United States would lose its status as the pre-eminent power in Asia, according to most U.S. and regional military experts. 

If America were unwilling or unable to defend Taiwan, its network of allies in the Asia-Pacific – including Tokyo, Seoul and Canberra – would overnight be far more vulnerable to military and economic coercion from China. 

Some might switch allegiance to Beijing, analysts say. Some might seek nuclear weapons to boost their own security.

If America did opt to defend the island, though, there is no guarantee it would defeat an increasingly powerful PLA, according to current and former senior U.S. commanders. 

To counter China’s military rise, the United States is now rolling out new weapons and strategy in the Asia-Pacific.

There are indications America’s stance may be stiffening. Asked last month if the United States would come to Taiwan’s defense if China launched an attack, President Joe Biden appeared to depart from the long-held U.S. policy of “strategic ambiguity” when he replied: “Yes, we have a commitment to do that.”

Lieutenant Colonel Martin Meiners, a spokesperson for the Pentagon, had no comment on “specific operations, engagements, or training” described in this report. 

But Meiners said that China had “stepped up efforts to intimidate and pressure Taiwan and other allies,” and this increases “the risk of miscalculation.”

For Japan, blocking China from gaining a foothold in its trade routes is vital. From Taiwan, the Chinese military could threaten Japan’s southern islands and dominate the sea lanes that carry its imports and exports. 

Top Japanese officials now publicly acknowledge Tokyo must assist the United States in defending Taiwan. 

Asked about the conflict scenarios, Japan’s defense ministry said it couldn’t comment “on hypothetical questions or speculation.”

In Taiwan, an overwhelming majority of the island’s 23.5 million people think of themselves as Taiwanese rather than Chinese and support closer economic and political ties with the United States, according to opinion polls and recent election outcomes. 

This sentiment has hardened as they watch Beijing’s ongoing crackdown in Hong Kong. President Tsai Ing-wen has repeatedly said Taiwan will defend its freedom and democratic way of life.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said in a statement that the island’s military had “drawn up relevant countermeasures and made various combat plans” regarding possible actions and attempts to invade Taiwan by the “Communist army.”

Xi has made one thing clear: Taiwan, he has said, “must be, will be” unified with China to realize his dream of a rejuvenated China, a nation that recaptures the position it held for centuries as a great Asian power

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

First, “Survival is the primary need of civilization.” 
Second, “Civilization continuously grows and expands, but the total matter in the universe remains constant.” 
Third, “chains of suspicion” and the risk of a “technological explosion” in another civilization mean that in space there can only be the law of the jungle. 
In the words of the book’s hero, Luo Ji:
The universe is a dark forest. Every civilization is an armed hunter stalking through the trees like a ghost ... trying to tread without sound ... 
The hunter has to be careful, because everywhere in the forest are stealthy hunters like him. 
If he finds other life — another hunter, an angel or a demon, a delicate infant or a tottering old man, a fairy or a demigod — 
There’s only one thing he can do: open fire and eliminate them. 
In this forest, hell is other people ... any life that exposes its own existence will be swiftly wiped out.
This is intergalactic Darwinism.

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T-DAY The Battle for Taiwan @Reuters @SpecialReports [continued]
Law & Politics

After a long campaign of gray-zone warfare fails to bring Taipei to the negotiating table, Xi and his ruling Communist Party run out of patience. 

Public opinion polls in Taiwan show steadily increasing support for formal independence among the island's younger generation. 

The United States and its regional allies continue to bolster military and political ties with Taipei.
Xi and his top military commanders decide that China will impose a blockade on Taiwan’s Matsu Islands in a bid to increase pressure on Taipei to open talks on unification.
The Matsus are home to about 13,500 people. The chain of small islands and islets hugs the Chinese coast, lying about nine kilometers from the shores of China’s Fujian Province at the closest point. 

Communist authorities have always regarded the Matsus as part of China’s Lianjiang County. Now they plan to assert this claim.

PLA Navy ships and submarines encircle the islands and islets. Hundreds of sand dredgers, fishing boats and Chinese paramilitary ships  also move in to bolster the surrounding flotilla. 

PLA fighters begin round-the-clock patrols over the Taiwan Strait. Taipei is warned that any Taiwanese fighters, surveillance aircraft or warships crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait will be attacked.

Beijing also announces that no commercial or military flights to the islands from Taiwan will be permitted without the approval of Chinese air traffic control authorities. 

All commercial ships and ferry services from Taiwan are barred from entering the ports servicing the island group’s townships. 

Any passenger or supply vessels attempting to break the blockade will be seized, Beijing warns. The small Taiwanese coast guard and military garrison is now isolated and powerless to resist.


This is the opening of the fourth and most serious Taiwan Strait crisis since 1949. 

Taipei’s military commanders send warships and fighter jets to attack the PLA forces enforcing the blockade. 

With China’s overwhelming advantage in missiles, strike aircraft and warships, Taiwan’s relieving forces are wiped out long before they reach the Matsus.
As Taipei issues urgent appeals for military and diplomatic assistance from the United States and its allies, Beijing calls for immediate talks with the Taiwan government to discuss a timetable for unification.


Taiwan rejects Beijing’s demands but decides against a full-scale military campaign to break the blockade. 

The Matsu Islands are effectively under Communist Party rule. International tensions skyrocket as the United States and its allies apply coordinated trade and economic sanctions on Beijing.


China has been conducting an unbroken campaign of gray-zone warfare and a blockade of the Matsu Islands. But the Taiwan government flatly refuses to open unification talks. 

Amid an international outcry against Beijing’s aggression, public opinion in Taiwan hardens dramatically against any form of union with China. 

Taiwan boosts defense spending, expands the period of conscription and requests sharp increases in military supplies and weapons from the United States. 

A U.S.-led campaign to assist Taiwan includes accelerated support for the island’s program to build a fleet of modern, stealthy submarines.
Meanwhile, the PLA carefully conceals a build-up of forces trained in amphibious landings at ports along the coast of Fujian Province. 

The PLA also assembles airborne troops at a network of bases further inland.


President Xi and his top commanders decide that Beijing will seize the Taiwanese island of Kinmen, about six kilometers from the Chinese port city of Xiamen on the coast of Fujian Province and home to about 140,000 people.

Without warning, the PLA unleashes an artillery and missile barrage against Kinmen's Taiwanese army headquarters, barracks, defensive positions and key infrastructure targets. 

Chinese fighters and bombers launch strikes against Taiwanese garrison troops rushing to their defensive positions. 

While the bombardment continues, PLA landing craft packed with troops converge on Kinmen's beaches, and hundreds of helicopters ferry airborne troops to seize key strategic positions.

With the island’s airport under PLA control, Chinese transport aircraft land and begin disgorging troops and equipment. 

From naval bases on the Chinese coast, dozens of powerful Chinese warships and submarines sail into waters between Kinmen and Taiwan in a bid to block any reinforcements reaching the besieged island. 

Overhead, PLA fighters maintain a continual screen to prevent Taiwan's air force attacking the invasion force. PLA troops assault Kinmen’s beaches in an attempt to link up with the airborne forces inland on the island.


Taiwan's military commanders launch waves of missile strikes against ports along the Chinese coast and PLA warships near the island. 

Taiwan's air defense system also fires surface-to-air missiles at PLA aircraft over the Taiwan Strait. The island’s jet fighters scramble to attack Chinese fighters and bombers attacking Kinmen.


Before the United States and its allies can respond to desperate pleas for assistance from Taipei, PLA ground forces overwhelm Kinmen’s defenders. 

As American and Japanese naval forces steam towards the Taiwan Strait, Beijing warns they should not intervene. 

It calls for an immediate ceasefire so military and civilian casualties on Kinmen can be evacuated to Chinese hospitals and essential services restored. 

Beijing also demands that Taipei agree to talks on unification under the formula of “one country, two systems.”
Amid an international outcry, China blocks moves by the United Nations to condemn its invasion of Kinmen. Xi and the top Chinese leadership hunker down to endure economic and trade sanctions, calculating Washington and its allies will not risk major war over such a small territory. 

Beijing's assessment is borne out when U.S. and Japanese ships and aircraft avoid attacks on Chinese forces. But the crisis continues: Washington begins deploying more air, naval and ground forces to Asia. 

It accelerates arms deliveries to Taiwan and begins a global diplomatic campaign to impose a punishing technology embargo on China. 


With tensions mounting over China’s extended campaign of gray-zone warfare against Taiwan and an ongoing blockade of Matsu, Taiwan continues to reject holding unification talks with Beijing. 

Public opinion remains strongly behind the Taipei government. The island boosts defense spending and expands the period of conscription.
Amid an ongoing international outcry, the United States steps up delivery of arms for the beleaguered island’s military: F-16 fighters, long-range anti-ship missiles, tanks, smart mines and attack helicopters. 

Washington also dispatches extra military advisers to assist in an urgent overhaul of Taiwan’s large but poorly trained reserve forces. 

After publicly confirming that it would help the United States defend Taiwan, Japan deploys army and navy units to southern islands in the Japanese archipelago for intensive amphibious landing training.
Alarmed at Taiwan’s preparations, China’s military and political leadership under President Xi Jinping decides to impose a snap customs quarantine of Taiwan in a bid to force the island’s leadership to agree to talks. 


In a message to Taiwan’s trading partners, Beijing reminds them that they all acknowledge the ruling Communist Party’s claim to sovereignty over the self-governing island. 

In the same notice, Beijing informs the international community that it will enforce customs, maritime and airspace jurisdiction over Taiwan. 

China also announces the creation of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), an area that stretches beyond a territory’s air space where air traffic controllers request incoming flights to identify themselves. 

The move overrides Taiwan’s existing control of its airspace.
Beijing bans all shipping from entering what had been considered Taiwan’s territorial waters without its permission. 

The Chinese authorities inform all airlines and shipping companies that they must have Beijing’s official approval to enter or leave Taiwan’s airspace or ports. 

They also insist that all flights, ships and ferries submit passenger manifestos and customs declarations to Chinese authorities.
Within 24 hours, a vast fleet of PLA Navy, coast guard and maritime militia ships deploys around Taiwan to enforce the quarantine, intercepting ships attempting to approach the island without approval from Beijing. 

PLA fighters and air-defense missile forces prepare to attack unauthorized aircraft entering airspace around Taiwan. 

Vessels heading for Taiwan are stopped and searched for weapons, military technology or other imports that would contribute to Taiwan’s defenses. 

Bigger cargo vessels are diverted to Chinese ports for inspection.
Foreign military forces are warned they will come under attack if they attempt to approach the island. With only essential supplies of food and energy allowed through the cordon, Beijing demands that the international community refrain from interfering in China’s internal affairs. 

With the quarantine in place, and before the United States and its allies can intervene, Xi calls on the Taiwanese authorities to avert a looming global crisis and open immediate talks on unification.


Taipei rejects Chinese demands for talks and deploys warships and fighters in an attempt to break the quarantine. 

While calling for urgent assistance from the United States and its allies, it also launches land-based missile strikes on PLA warships and aircraft around the island. 

Chinese forces suffer some losses, but Taiwan’s efforts to keep its ports open for trade are quickly snuffed out by the PLA’s superior firepower.


With the sudden halt to all imports and exports, Taiwan faces almost immediate shortages of essential supplies, particularly energy. The island is suddenly cut off from the world. 

While the United States and its allies decide how to respond, Beijing offers to allow essential supplies to get through on condition that Taipei agrees to immediate talks on unification.


Under a tight customs quarantine, Taiwan’s government rejects Beijing’s demand for talks on unification and calls on the United States and its allies to assist in breaking China’s stranglehold. 

Global stock markets crash in anticipation of a wider military clash and a shortage of vital semiconductors and other key tech products from Taiwan.
With Washington warning Beijing to lift its quarantine or face military intervention, China decides to impose a full blockade in a bid to increase domestic pressure on Taipei. 


Beijing bars all shipping from entering waters around Taiwan apart from PLA Navy and Chinese paramilitary vessels enforcing the blockade. 

Oil tankers heading to the island from the Middle East are diverted to Chinese terminals. 

All passenger and cargo aircraft are warned they will be attacked if they intrude into the new Air Defense Identification Zone that China has imposed over Taiwan.

Taiwanese navy vessels at sea are called on to surrender. Those that refuse are attacked and sunk. PLA warships and submarines lay mines in the approaches to all of Taiwan’s major ports. 

The crucial submarine data cables carrying Taiwan’s communications with the outside world are cut.

PLA warships and strike aircraft are deployed in strength to block U.S. and Japanese forces from approaching Taiwan. 

With the island totally isolated and shortages mounting, Beijing demands that Taipei open unification talks.


With promises of support from the U.S. and its allies, Taiwan launches air and missile strikes on PLA warships and paramilitary vessels strangling its trade. 

The United States and its allies including Japan deploy powerful surface warships and submarines to the area around Taiwan to break the blockade. 

Long-range U.S. bombers are deployed to Guam and Australia to boost allied firepower over the waters off the Chinese coast.
First to arrive near Taiwan, American and Japanese submarines begin sinking PLA warships enforcing the blockade. 

Carrying huge payloads of long-range anti-ship missiles, American bombers also inflict massive damage on China's surface fleet.


But China's powerful air-defense system and anti-ship missile batteries prevent America and its allies from opening Taiwan's shipping lanes and ports. 

Beijing also launches strikes on U.S. bases in Japan in a bid to weaken America's capacity to respond.  

The clashes lead to heavy losses of warships and lives. With its blockade still in place, Beijing calls for an immediate ceasefire, offers to allow urgently needed supplies to reach Taiwan and invites negotiations with Washington in a bid to avert a full-scale war.
Rather than attempt to destroy the PLA's air-defense network with air and missile strikes on Chinese soil, attacks that could easily lead to all-out conflict, Washington and its allies decide to threaten an economic counterattack. 

They warn they will impose a counter blockade of their own on China's seaborne imports of energy and raw materials carried on sea lanes across the Indian Ocean and through the narrow chokepoints of the Indonesian archipelago.


Alarmed by Beijing’s increasingly aggressive gray-zone tactics, the United States and its allies step up efforts to enhance Taiwan’s defenses. 

Weapons sales are accelerated, munitions are stockpiled and Taiwan begins to bolster the readiness of its regular and reserve forces. 

Taiwan’s outmanned and outgunned military also begins to re-organize for asymmetric warfare: It disperses and conceals hundreds of lethal, long-range missiles capable of striking at the PLA’s superior force of warships, aircraft and targets on Chinese soil. 

The United States is also boosting the firepower of its forces in Asia, while senior Japanese leaders pledge support for America in defending Taiwan if the island comes under attack.
Xi and his top commanders decide that there is no realistic prospect of gaining control of Taiwan without conflict. And they calculate they face a narrow window of opportunity in which the PLA holds an advantage in firepower in the waters off the Chinese coast. 

In an era of increasing rivalry with the United States, delay could mean unification becomes increasingly difficult and exposes the Communist Party leadership to internal revolt. 

The Chinese economy is slowing sharply as a massive property bubble deflates, making it difficult to sustain the huge increases in defense spending that has delivered the world’s biggest military. 

The leadership considers but rules out limited measures including seizing outlying islands, or imposing blockades. 

They calculate these operations are just as likely to ignite a global economic crisis and invite American intervention as a full-scale invasion. And, there is no guarantee Taiwan will capitulate.
But assessments from top planners convince Xi and his top brass that an invasion, the biggest and most complex amphibious landing ever attempted, is beyond the PLA’s capabilities. 

The risk of failure is great, which could threaten the Communist Party’s hold on power. Instead, Chinese leaders decide to launch a devastating air and missile attack on the island’s defenses. 

The aim is to smash Taiwan’s military, demoralize the population and force Taipei to the negotiating table before the United States and its allies can intervene.


Without warning, PLA forces launch massive saturation attacks on key military and civilian targets. 

These include airfields, ports, air-defense radars, communication nodes, military command centers and headquarters, missile batteries, navy bases, major warships, key bridges, communication networks, power stations and grids, government buildings, radio and television stations, data centers and major transport arteries.
Beijing deploys missile, naval and air forces to keep the United States and its allies from sending forces to assist Taiwan. 

In follow-up attacks, China’s missile units, navy and air force strike at surviving Taiwanese warships, fighters and missile batteries.


With missiles and airstrikes intensifying across the island, Taiwan rushes its political and military leadership to specially prepared underground command centers and deploys its regular forces to their defensive positions, anticipating a full invasion. Reserves are mobilized.
From hangars buried deep in mountains, Taiwan’s fighters emerge to attack PLA strike aircraft. Taiwan’s air defense system, one of the world’s most advanced, also attacks the PLA air force with missiles from camouflaged and concealed batteries scattered around the island.
Taiwan’s long-range ballistic and cruise missiles strike Chinese air bases, missile battery radars and other military targets.


With Taiwan’s military heavily damaged and key infrastructure in ruins, Beijing calls for an immediate ceasefire before the United States and its allies can intervene and demands Taipei agree to negotiate arrangements for unification.
Despite the devastation, Taiwan remains defiant and flatly refuses to negotiate. It persists with mobilizing its reserves and dispersing its remaining weapons. 

It rushes extra troops to potential landing beaches to deter a PLA invasion. Amid a global outcry over massive casualties and hardship, the United States and its allies begin deploying forces to reinforce the island's defenses.


Xi and his top commanders are convinced they are running out of time. With the world recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic that emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan, 

China’s global standing is worse than at any time since the Korean War. Its pugnacious “wolf warrior” diplomacy and its ongoing gray-zone campaign against Taiwan are hardening American and international support for the island. 

And the Chinese leadership is convinced it has a narrow window of opportunity to unify Taiwan by force. America is strengthening its forces and alliances in Asia, and Taipei is beginning to make urgent moves to beef up its defenses.
Xi and his commanders consider but rule out limited measures, such as seizing outlying islands, imposing blockades or waging an air-and-missile campaign. 

They calculate these operations are just as likely to ignite a global economic crisis and invite American intervention as a full-scale invasion. And there is no guarantee Taiwan would capitulate.
They decide to mount the biggest and most complex amphibious and airborne landing ever attempted.  The PLA’s goal is to overwhelm the island before the United States and its allies can respond.


Without warning, the PLA launches massive air, missile and cyber-attacks on key military and civilian targets all over Taiwan. 

At the same time, the PLA attacks U.S. bases in Japan and Guam with air and missile strikes in a bid to paralyze American forces and delay any intervention.

While these strikes are underway, a huge armada of PLA amphibious ships, landing craft and civilian ships from China’s vast merchant marine fleet sets sail from Chinese ports, about 130 km from Taiwan at its closest point. 

Aboard are hundreds of thousands of PLA troops and their heavy equipment. 

As the landing force approaches Taiwan, PLA transport aircraft and helicopters mount airborne landings on Taiwan to seize key targets including airfields, ports, government buildings and command centers. 

These airborne landings include special forces units tasked with capturing or killing the island’s political and military leadership.   

Alongside the military operations, China launches psychological warfare through cyber-attacks and misinformation campaigns on Taiwan’s internet and telecom networks.

After clearing mines and obstacles from the designated landing beaches, the invasion force lands along the Taiwan coast and begins to fight its way inland. 

Specially trained units seize the island’s key ports, repair damage from the fighting and prepare them to receive incoming reinforcements carried on merchant vessels and civilian roll-on, roll-off ships.


As the first missiles and airstrikes hit Taiwan, political and military leaders are rushed to specially prepared and hardened underground command centers. 

Taipei calls for urgent assistance from the United States and its allies. 

The island’s military goes into full mobilization and reserves head for their assembly points. 

Troops with their armor and artillery man the extensive defenses and fortifications around anticipated landing beaches.
From concealed and hardened positions that survived the initial onslaught, Taiwan’s military launches long-range missile strikes on the invasion armada and Chinese ports. 

From shelters deep inside mountains where they survived the initial bombardment, the island’s jet fighters emerge to launch strikes on the approaching invasion force and attack PLA aircraft threatening the island.
With its forces in Asia also under attack, the United States is joined by key alliance partners Japan and Australia and begins attacking the invading PLA force. American and Japanese submarines head for the Taiwan Strait to intercept troop transports and PLA warships. 

Extra U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups are dispatched to Asia, while U.S. bombers and stealth fighters launch missile attacks on PLA shipping and aircraft.


Within hours a major war is raging in East Asia.

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My point is that things could go backwards, and they could go backwards at a really terrifying speed @BorisJohnson @NewStatesman
Law & Politics

It was dawn in Rome and the air was still cool, the streets yet to fill with tourists and traffic. 

Inside the magnificent, ruined Colosseum, the first rays of sun fell on to ancient stones and Boris Johnson stood and stared in awe. “He was in his element,” said one aide who toured the monument with him.
The Prime Minister visited the 2,000-year-old arena as a lover of Roman history – but one who also had a job to do. 

His aim, as he spoke amid the ruins to television crews on 30 October, was to tell a story about the peril facing the Earth, and to persuade his fellow world leaders, gathered in Rome for the G20 summit, to act on climate change. 

For Johnson, the fall of the Roman empire provided the perfect cautionary tale of what is at stake for humanity: the safeguarding of civilisation or a return to the dark ages following environmental catastrophe.
“My point is that things could go backwards, and they could go backwards at a really terrifying speed,” Johnson told a group of reporters, including from the New Statesman, who travelled with him to Italy.

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Globally, >3million cases and 50,477 deaths were reported last week. @mvankerkhove

Biggest increases again in Europe (accounting for 59%/50% of all cases/deaths reported last week)

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COVID-19 infections are still rising in 52 countries. @ReutersGraphics

14 countries are still near the peak of their infection curve

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Nations w/ new record daily COVID19 deaths past week @jmlukens

Russia: 1,165
Romania: 591
Bulgaria: 310
Armenia: 62
Moldova: 86
Mauritius: 20
Burkina Faso: 7

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What happens next depends not only on vaccination, but also on how the virus might mutate. @derspiegel

"This virus keeps surprising us," agrees Mary Bushman, a mathematician and population biologist at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 

"No one expected such large jumps in contagiousness.”

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.1561
Dollar Index 94.29
Japan Yen 113.58
Swiss Franc 0.9132
Pound 1.3483
Aussie 0.7396
India Rupee 74.156
South Korea Won 1185.40
Brazil Real 5.5412
Egypt Pound 15.7091
South Africa Rand 14.97

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WTI Crude Oil @jjihec 81.53

Crude oil prices last week lose around 3%, WTI at $81.17 and Brent $82.55.

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African Region @WHO regional overviews Epidemiological week 25-31 October 2021

Declining trends observed in the Region since mid-July continued this week with over 19 000 new cases and over 700 new deaths reported, decreases of 9% and 13%, respectively, as compared to the previous week. 

Nevertheless, 17/49 countries (34%) reported increases of over 10% as compared with the previous week, with the largest increases observed in Rwanda (100%), Comoros (94%) and Eritrea (68%). 

The highest numbers of new cases were reported from 

Ethiopia (3313 new cases; 2.9 new cases per 100 000 population; a 14% increase)

South Africa (2554 new cases; 4.3 new cases per 100 000; a 19% decrease)

Cameroon (2210 new cases; 8.3 new cases per 100 000; a 17% increase).
The highest numbers of new deaths were reported from 

South Africa (249 new deaths; <1 new death per 100 000 population; a 24% decrease)

Ethiopia (118 new deaths; <1 new death per 100 000; a 13% decrease)

Cameroon (86 new deaths; <1 new death per 100 000; a 72% increase).

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COVID-19 Resurgence Map

% Change in new cases per million (7 day average) - Ranked 1. Chad 3626%

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Military Coups in Africa at Highest Level Since End of Colonialism @WSJ

On the day before launching the coup that halted Sudan’s democratic transition last month, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan made a string of daring geopolitical moves. 

He reassured Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. envoy to Sudan, that he didn’t intend to seize power. 

Then he boarded a jet to Egypt for secret talks to ensure his plot would have regional support.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, who seized power in a 2013 coup backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, reassured his fellow general, according to three people familiar with the meeting.
Upon his return to Khartoum, Gen. Burhan arrested dozens of government officials, including the prime minister, dissolving the civilian-military power-sharing deal that had brought Sudan out of three decades of international isolation. Spokesmen for Gen. Burhan and Mr. Sisi didn’t return requests for comment.

Sudan’s military coup—the fourth in Africa this year—underscores the increasingly complex international backdrop that is helping fuel a surge in military takeovers that have almost disappeared in other parts of the globe.

Military strongmen in Guinea, Chad and Mali have in recent months taken power from weakened governments that were vulnerable to foreign interference and plagued by poor governance, stuttering economies and insecurity. 

Attempts at military coups have been foiled this year in Madagascar, Central African Republic and Niger.

The result is what United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called “an epidemic of coup d’états” in a speech following the Sudanese putsch

He called on the U.N. Security Council to take action. “Some military leaders feel that they have total impunity,” he said.
The return of military strongmen in sub-Saharan Africa comes a decade after the Middle East’s Arab Spring protests, when many hoped democracy would take root in regions where generals once held sway. 

It comes three decades after many Latin American and Southeast Asian countries transitioned from military rule to democracy.
In Africa, this year has seen a quadrupling of coups after just one putsch in 2020—again in Mali—and an average of just two a year over the past decade. 

The number is the highest since 1980 and is more in line with the 1970s, after African countries won their independence when generals and politicians seized power, says Jonathan Powell, an associate professor at the University of Central Florida and an expert on coups. 

Military strongmen have said corruption, mismanagement and poverty have justified such moves.
Diplomats and analysts say that a key reason for the surge in coups is that the willingness of a number of international powers to deal with authoritarian regimes has lowered the potential cost of a regime change.

China, the dominant economic power in Africa, has a so-called “no interference” policy.

Russia—which is expanding its influence through the sale of weapons and mercenary services via Kremlin-linked military company, Wagner—has been assisting an embattled president in Central African Republic. 

Wagner has also offered its services to Mali, Libya and Mozambique, Western and African officials say. Moscow denies involvement with Wagner.
The U.S., France—the former colonial power in Mali, Chad and Guinea—and the European Union have threatened financial consequences for coup leaders.
After the takeover in Sudan, the Biden administration announced that Washington was freezing its $700 million aid package. The EU has issued stern reprimands but hasn’t taken any action.
Virginie Baudais, a Sahel expert at think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, says the lack of firm and coordinated responses has helped military leaders stay in power. 

By contrast, coup leaders in Niger in 1999 and 2010 faced drastic cuts in international aid, and were forced to relent.

The root causes for African coups are little changed: struggling economies weakened by poor and corrupt governance and persistent security challenges.

Meanwhile, many of Africa’s young democracies are unable to cope with the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, including strains on healthcare, rising food prices and the continent’s worst economic contraction on record.
When Mamady Doumbouya, the 41-year-old colonel and former French legionnaire, led his coup in Guinea last September, he quoted Jerry Rawlings, the Ghanaian military leader who seized power in 1981 before overseeing a transition to democracy: “If the people are crushed by their elites, it is up to the army to give the people their freedom.”
To be sure, the continent has also seen several peaceful handovers of power recently, with presidential elections in Malawi and Zambia this year. 

In April, Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum successfully quelled an attempted coup following an election and took office in the first democratic transfer of power in the country’s history.

“We didn’t work to empower strongmen but strong institutions,” said Mahamadou Issoufou, Mr. Bazoum’s immediate predecessor, in an interview.

Sudan’s coup took place amid inflation of nearly 400% and a shortage of food and basic necessities for the country’s 45 million people.
Gen. Burhan was set to hand over control of the sovereign council, the top transitional government body, to Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in November, making the civilian the country’s top leader ahead of elections slated for 2023. 

Some of the protesters blamed the economic turmoil on the civilian government and backed the military, providing key political support ahead of the coup.
Meanwhile, Egypt has been seeking international support for its dispute with Ethiopia, which is building a giant dam that the Sisi government says threatens to choke off the waters that run into the Nile. 

Just before the coup, Egypt’s intelligence chief, Abbas Kamel, traveled to Khartoum to meet Gen. Burhan—but shunned Mr. Hamdok.

The Egyptians were unhappy with the prime minister’s leadership, particularly his public openness to the Ethiopian dam, as well as his reluctance to deepen ties with Israel, a key Cairo ally that Khartoum recognized last year. 

“Hamdok has to go,” Mr. Kamel told Gen. Burhan, one Sudan government adviser said.

For days, Mr. Feltman shuttled between Gen. Burhan and Mr. Hamdok, hoping to prevent the collapse of the democratic transition two years in the making. 

At a final meeting on Oct. 24, the general the road map for the democratic transition. “There was no hint or conversation about a potential military takeover,” Mr. Feltman later said.
The next day, Gen. Burhan dissolved the Sovereign Council and the transitional government, detained Mr. Hamdok and other officials, and declared a state of emergency. 

The U.S. and European countries are attempting to defuse the crisis by discussing the appointment of a new civilian prime minister, according to the Sudan adviser and a European security official.
In weekend anticoup protests that Secretary of State Antony Blinken said numbered in the millions, demonstrators decried President Sisi as the hidden hand behind the coup.
“Abdel Fatta Burhan and Sisi—one and the same,” they chanted.

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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.”

Russia is now Africa’s leading supplier of arms. According to the Swedish think tank SIPRI, between 2012 and 2016 Russia had become the largest supplier of arms to Africa, accounting for 35 percent of arms exports to the region, way ahead of China (17 per cent), the United States (9.6 per cent), and France (6.9 per cent).

“Russia regards Africa as an important and active participant in the emerging polycentric architecture 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 in- cipient 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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February 1st 2021 ‘The genie out of the bottle’ @AfricanBizMag

“Everybody else is going to start wanting more freedom within the constitution. 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. If he put more resources into Tigray he’s going to lose more control of the other regions.''

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As internationals prepare to withdraw from Addis, the region is starting to close its borders. The world is preparing for a catastrophe in #Ethiopia. @_hudsonc

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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A year ago, the Ethiopian government called it a mere law enforcement operation that would be finished within weeks. Now it is an existential war. @geoffreyyork

November 8, 2020 .@PMEthiopia has launched an unwinnable War on Tigray Province.

Ethiopia which was once the Poster child of the African Renaissance now has a Nobel Prize Winner whom I am reliably informed

PM Abiy His inner war cabinet includes Evangelicals who are counseling him he is "doing Christ's work"; that his faith is being "tested". @RAbdiAnalyst

@PMEthiopia has launched an unwinnable War on Tigray Province.

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Barkawis & Laffeys writing comes to mind (again): awaiting liberation at the hands of the West is as pointless today as it's always been, in #Ethiopia as in #Myanmar @DavBrenner

As Ethiopia's regime is about to collapse under the military pressure of the #Tigray & #Oromo resistance, Barkawi's & Laffey's writing comes to mind (again): awaiting liberation at the hands of the West is as pointless today as it's always been, in #Ethiopia as in #Myanmar 

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The African National Congress’s loss follows a hemorrhaging of support across the country that’s set to leave the party with less than 50% of the national vote for the first time since the end of apartheid. @bpolitics

The party obtained about 34.1% of the vote in Johannesburg, compared with 44.5% in the last local-government vote five years ago, according to results published Thursday by the electoral commission with 99% of total ballots counted.

The official opposition Democratic Alliance obtained 25.5%, while ex-Mayor Herman Mashaba’s ActionSA got 16.1%, making it the third-biggest party, commission figures showed.

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The Horrors of the Diamond Boom @nybooks Joshua Hammer

The colony known as German Southwest Africa (now the nation of Namibia) was born out of a monumental swindle. 

In 1883 Adolf Lüderitz, a tobacco merchant and adventurer from Bremen, dispatched an agent to Angra Pequeña, a desolate natural harbor on Africa’s South Atlantic coast and the gateway to one of the last territories on the continent that hadn’t been claimed by European powers. 

After trekking 124 miles through the bush to a settlement called Bethanie, the agent persuaded Josef Frederiks, a chief of the Nama people, to sell the scorpion-infested desert around Angra Pequeña for gold valued at £100 and two hundred loaded rifles. 

(Frederiks’s European name was probably bestowed on him by a missionary from the Rhenish Mission Society, a German Protestant group that had been active in the territory since the 1830s.) 

Three months later, the agent paid Frederiks an additional £500 and sixty rifles for a 10,000-square-mile sweep of land between Angra Pequeña and the Orange River, which formed the northern border of Great Britain’s Cape Colony.

Frederiks was barely literate, and he also had grievously misunderstood the size of the territory he was selling: Lüderitz’s agent had drawn up the contracts using German square miles, thirty times larger than the English square miles familiar to Frederiks. 

By the time he got wise to the duplicity, it was too late. In 1884 German chancellor Otto von Bismarck, enticed by the possibility that diamonds and other minerals lay beneath the sands, recognized Lüderitz as the ruler of a new German possession called Lüderitzland.

Lüderitz dreamed of a diamond strike that would make him the German counterpart of the mining magnate and Cape Colony prime minister Cecil John Rhodes. 

Instead he died penniless after his boat capsized during an expedition to find the mouth of the Orange River in 1886. (His body, presumably swept into the frigid waters of the South Atlantic, was never recovered.) 

Over the next two decades, the governments of Bismarck and his successors didn’t focus on diamond hunting; they built railroads and tried to entice German farmers to settle the largely waterless territory. 

But these efforts led to the creation of just 440 farms occupying 2 percent of the total land. Ranching projects were also failures, with entire herds of cattle succumbing to rinderpest and other diseases.

Then, in 1908, a railroad worker stumbled onto a trove of gems in the dunes beside some track under repair in the Namib Desert near Lüderitz Bay, the ramshackle settlement that had risen at Angra Pequeña. 

A diamond rush immediately followed and utterly changed the once-forlorn colony’s fortunes. 

Over the next decade, until Great Britain seized the territory during World War I, Germany exported millions of carats to Antwerp and markets around the world—principally the United States—engaging in a fierce competition with Rhodes’s company, De Beers, for global dominance of the diamond trade. 

The boom whetted Germany’s thirst for empire and created a system of exploitation that resembled King Leopold II’s murderous rubber economy in the Belgian Congo. 

But like the deal that gave Lüderitz control of the territory in 1883, the entire industry was something of a swindle. 

Its success rested on shrewd marketing campaigns and strict production controls, which tricked consumers into believing that diamonds were a rare commodity.

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Top 30 companies across East Africa and Mauritius by market cap - Total market cap: $31.8B @MwangoCapital

 accounts for 48% of total market cap
- Weighted Average trailing PE is 18.1X
- Weighted Average ROE of 33.5%
- Kenya dominates with 14 companies

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Kenya Shilling versus The Dollar Live ForexPros

Kenya’s shilling parred losses after depreciating to 111.73 per dollar, its weakest level on record.

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

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