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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Wednesday 15th of December 2021

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It's the 93 million properties currently under construction !!! Now I don't care how Confucius super smart you are, that's a whopping problem. That's inter galactic. That's friggin bonkers @hendry_hugh
World Of Finance

Yeah, so it's not the 55 m empty housing units nor the end of China's mega trends, NO, it's the 93 million properties currently under construction !!! Now I don't care  how Confucius super smart you are, that's a whopping problem. That's inter galactic. That's friggin bonkers

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Soros cries foul. The great man wrote, "Xi does not understand how markets operate." Investors yawn !! George, George, George, they arrogantly conclude, don't you know the Chinese bureaucrat is the match for any problem... @hendry_hugh
World Of Finance

Soros cries foul. The great man wrote, "Xi does not understand how markets operate." Investors yawn !! George, George, George, they arrogantly conclude, you're so out of touch, don't you know the Chinese bureaucrat is the match for any problem...But George I'm on your side...

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Convexity? Market's best guess is that the clueless will hike rates to 1.5%. Hmm, 100 strike Sept 23 eurodollar strikes ? I don't know, I'm just your midnight dancer @hendry_hugh
World Of Finance

Convexity? Market's best guess is that the clueless will hike rates to 1.5%. This year the biggest challenge for the clueless has been to prevent US T bills pricing negative despite the BOOM. Hmm, 100 strike Sept 23 eurodollar strikes ? I don't know, I'm just your midnight dancer

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93 million units awaiting completion, perhaps they will invade Taiwan after all...I'm out of here and heading to bed. Soyez courageous...Face throwing a kiss Your midnight Rambler. @hendry_hugh
World Of Finance

23-AUG-2021 :: Xi Jinping is on a winning streak ever since he started salami slicing his then adversary President Obama.


It is inevitable he will roll the dice on Taiwan and imminently.

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Mirrors on the ceiling, The Pink champagne on ice
World Of Finance

Last thing I remember, I was Running for the door

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29-NOV-2021 :: Regime Change
World Of Finance

The arrival of #Omicron brought ‘’Regime Change’’ to the markets on Friday.
For some time I have been saying
There is no training – classroom or otherwise.. that can prepare for trading the last third of a move, whether it's the end of a bull market or the end of a bear market. There's typically no logic to it; irrationality reigns supreme, and no class can teach what to do during that brief, volatile reign. Paul Tudor-Jones
I have been warning
The Music has been playing for Eternity and its about to stop
And below captioned is my favourite musical snippet of recent times
Just played #laritournelle with @ESKAonline and some amazing musicians @southbankcentre paying tribute to the legendary #tonyallen @thenitinsawhney 

Mirrors on the ceiling, The Pink champagne on ice
Last thing I remember, I was Running for the door

The Stock Market has a long way to fall
Just to put things into perspective: S&P 500 trades at a higher multiple than before the pandemic crash in Mar2020 @Schuldensuehner

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Once Upon a Time in the West - Two Horses Too Many (1968)

Once Upon a Time in the West (Italian: C'era una volta il West, "Once upon a time (there was) the West") is a 1968 epic Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Leone

The film features long, slow scenes with very little dialogue and little happening, broken by brief and sudden violence.
Leone was far more interested in the rituals preceding violence than in the violence itself.
The tone of the film is consistent with the arid semidesert in which the story unfolds, and imbues it with a feeling of realism that contrasts with the elaborately choreographed gunplay.
Leone liked to tell the story of a cinema in Paris where the film ran uninterrupted for two years.
When he visited this theater, he was surrounded by fans who wanted his autograph, as well as the projectionist, who was less than enthusiastic.
Leone claimed the projectionist told him, "I kill you! The same movie over and over again for two years! And it's so SLOW!"[13]
Fonda did not accept Leone's first offer to play Frank, so Leone flew to New York to convince him, telling him:
"Picture this: the camera shows a gunman from the waist down pulling his gun and shooting a running child. The camera tilts up to the gunman's face and… it's Henry Fonda."
After meeting with Leone, Fonda called his friend Eli Wallach, who had co-starred in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Wallach advised Fonda to do the film, telling him "You will have the time of your life."
When he accepted the role, Fonda came to the set with brown contact lenses and facial hair.
Fonda felt having dark eyes and facial hair would blend well with his character's evil, and also help the audience to accept this "new" Fonda as the bad guy, but Leone immediately told him to remove the contacts and facial hair.
Leone felt that Fonda's blue eyes best reflected the cold, icy nature of the killer. It was one of the first times in a Western film where the villain was played by the lead actor.

Once Upon a Time in the West The opening sequence 1

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How Maradona inspired Paolo Sorrentino’s film about Naples, Hand of God – and inadvertently saved his life @guardian

This, for me, is the most beautiful place on Earth,” Paolo Sorrentino told Filippo Scotti, the actor playing the director’s younger self in his latest film, as their 1980s Riva speedboat chopped the waves of the Bay of Naples

Their view stretched from the precipitous peninsula of Sorrento all the way west towards Posillipo. The two promontories flank the sprawling port city, offering a warm embrace to all those who disembark there. 

Sorrentino’s new film, the Hand of God, opens with that same view: the sun-mottled bay, whose peace is disturbed by the sound of four Rivas as they speed towards the shore. The film is both a love letter to, and a portal into, Paolo Sorrentino’s Naples.

In cinemas now and on Netflix this week, The Hand of God sees the Academy award-winning director return to his home city for the first time since One Man Up, his 2001 debut. 

Sorrentino tells the story of his own coming of age, up to the moment when his life is shattered by the death of his parents in a tragic accident. 

Sorrentino’s story is a tale of great grief, loss and perseverance, set in a middle-class part of Naples, a far cry from the impoverished neighbourhoods shown in the city’s other recent portraits: Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend or the mafia-focused Gomorrah series.

Following the teenage life of Fabietto Schisa, a teenage Sorrentino-esque figure, the director maps out a rarely seen Naples, and his film serves as a refreshing guide to the city.

 Unlike the historic centre, with its ancient, working-class character, the Vomero neighbourhood feels more genteel and modern. Perched high above the city, it’s rarely visited by tourists

Nicknamed la città alta (the high city), most of Vomero comprises residential neighbourhoods built in the late 1960s and 70s. 

Low-rise housing blocks, such as those along Via San Domenico where Sorrentino grew up, envelop the craggy hill as it rises steeply above the sea.

At the heart of Vomero, however, is the Liberty-era Piazza Vanvitelli, an elegant octagonal square lined with cafes. Here the Fabiettos of today spill out of the nearby Istituto Salesiano secondary school Salesian Institute – Sorrentino’s alma mater – gossiping and smoking Camel Blues on benches. 

Leading off the piazza are wide avenues lined with department stores, bookshops and independent cinemas. In the cross streets are restaurants such as the historic La Gorizia 1916, a Vomero institution that opened during the first world war to help feed the famished neighbourhood, serves a quintessentially Neapolitan menu. 

Dishes are a step above some of the trattorias in the historic centre, which have begun to lose their way with the influx of tourists. 

Inhabitants of the lower city make an occasion of going “up” to Vomero, climbing the steep Pedamentina staircase and enjoying the views of the bay from Castel Sant’Elmo at the top.

Viewed from a distance of two decades, Sorrentino’s Naples – as portrayed in the film – is pricked with both melancholy and a rose-tinted nostalgia. 

From his youth he remembers the Amalfi coast, the vine-laced foothills of the Mount Vesuvius and the Apennines on the city’s doorstep. 

An early scene in The Hand of God sees the extended Schisa family enjoy a long family meal in Massa Lubrense, on the Sorrentine Peninsula – a locals’ favourite, often missed by tourists making a beeline for Positano. 

The lunch captures that charming and comedic Neapolitan spirit. An uncle of Fabietto’s produces a watermelon given to him as a thank-you for “a favour” and describes it as special “because it comes directly from Cava de’ Terreni”, while his grandmother – milk dripping down her chin – gorges on a vast bulbous mozzarella, which is no doubt made in one of the reputable dairies in nearby Agerola. 

In the afternoon, they head out for a jaunt on a wooden gozzo boat, bobbing about between the mainland and the Faraglioni rocks of Capri, while the women stay home to make passata, from a crop of Vesuvian tomatoes.

The quintessential Italian scenes of lazy lunches with eccentric family is just one seasonal facet of Vomero. Another is zipping off to the mountains in nearby Abruzzo for winter weekends or the settimana bianca – a half-term holiday in February traditionally spent skiing by the middle classes. 

In The Hand of God the Schisas have just acquired a small chalet in the fashionable Roccaraso resort, a couple of hours’ drive from Naples. 

It would have served as a welcome respite from the monotony of the working week, the smog and the chaos of a city in social and economic turmoil if it hadn’t been for the tragic accident: a gas leak, that took the lives of Fabietto’s (and Sorrentino’s) parents so abruptly. 

It was a fate that awaited Sorrentino too, had he not begged them to go to an away game in Empoli to watch Maradona play for his beloved Napoli football club.

If “the hand of god” saved Sorrentino’s life, it also saved Naples. After Maradona’s unexpected arrival in 1984, he twice led the club to their first ever victories of the Italian league. 

In doing so, he united a socially fragmented city devastated by the 1980s earthquake, the rising power of the Camorra clans and a heroin epidemic. 

Maradona showed Neapolitans that they, too, could be exceptional. And so Sunday afternoons have ever since been defined by trips to the stadium in the westerly neighbourhood of Fuorigrotta, where Neapolitans from all corners of the city come to worship Maradona’s legacy. 

If the Neapolitans were searching for a miracle, in Maradona they found their saint. His icon, along with San Gennaro, is seen in shrines on every street corner of the historic centre, framed in flickering neon and fake flowers, ever expected to deliver the beleaguered city yet another miracle.

Woven through the film are hints of Naples’ esoteric and occult impulses, exemplified by the significance of the film’s title and the opening scene where Fabietto’s aunt has a surreal encounter with benevolent figures from Neapolitan folklore. 

The blurring of paganism and Catholicism is nowhere better seen in Naples, however, than in the Cimitero delle Fontanelle, a former tufo stone quarry housing eight million bones, tucked away deep in La Sanità district. 

Here, for centuries, Neapolitans have gone to “adopt skulls”, dusting them off and leaving them offerings. They believe that by caring for the skulls, they free their souls from purgatory, sending them to heaven where they can finally return their earthly custodian a wish – commonly a husband. 

Still frequented today, the cemetery speaks to the city’s unique relationship with the sacred and the profane – a fascination of Sorrentino’s – where football stars can become saints, saints can save your life, and small hooded monks (seen at the beginning and end of the film) can make you fertile, rich and a successful film director.

Sorrentino often says that Maradona’s skills were his first encounter with art before he discovered cinema. Y

et it was cinema that finally led Sorrentino beyond the comfortable confines of his neighbourhood down to the lower city to the theatre in the city’s Quartieri Spagnoli, or to watch films being made in Galleria Toledo. 

Back up in Vomero, ambitious teenagers have long since piled into the legendary Acacia cinema to glimpse a world beyond their own and to dream of leaving the city for a more prosperous future.

Sorrentino left too, for Rome, only returning to Naples last summer to finally make his paean. 

While filming, he stayed in an apartment by the sea on the Posillipo peninsula. His view looked out at the crumbling palazzos, the crystalline water, Vesuvius and those wide embracing arms. If it was the hand of god that saved his life, it was surely the bay of Naples, that most beautiful place on Earth, that brought him home.

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Asif Kapadia's Maradona documentary slices through the myth to show us the man @guardian

Diego Armando Maradona’s life is a cliché, a rags to riches tragedy. He started as a poor boy with no filter, one whose ruthless drive and innate skill took him to greatness, before a sudden fall.
Had he been watching, Andy Warhol would have been enthralled.
Asif Kapadia, who won an Oscar for Amy, another documentary about a scintillating talent who came crashing to earth, is the man behind a new film about Maradona.
In the film, titled Maradona, Kapadia slices through the persisting myth of D10S, attempting to free Diego the man from Maradona the legend. 

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It is telling as to how confident Putin has been of late he now demands the West to publicly acknowledge his win. @19_forty_five @andrewmichta
Law & Politics

Putin’s Hybrid War along NATO’s Eastern Flank: In an April 2014 interview with Russian media at a time when the war in Eastern Ukraine was gathering speed, Vladimir Putin introduced a concept that effectively transformed that crisis into a classic case of irredentism threatening the stability of Europe as a whole. 

In doing so he set the framework for the coming years of strategic competition between Russia and the United States and its NATO allies. 

Speaking on Russian TV that day Putin invoked the historic concept of “Novorossiya” – a reference to a swath of territory conquered by the Romanovs in the 18th century from the imploding Ottoman Empire. 

The message was clear: this was the lens through which he saw the region’s geopolitics.  (Two centuries ago, Novorossiya covered about thirty percent of today’s post-Cold War Ukrainian territory, including Crimea.) 

Putin’s “Novorossiya Plus” is now front and center amid the current Russian military buildup along Ukraine’s borders to say nothing of the hybrid attacks launched from Belarus against Latvia, Lithuania, and especially Poland, with migrants funneled from Belarus to break NATO’s Eastern parameter.

Russia Goal: A Sphere of Influence 

Clearly, we are in the second, possibly decisive, chapter of the Ukrainian crisis that will determine that country’s future and, by extension the balance of power in Europe. 

Putin no longer bothers to equivocate when it comes to relations with the West going forward. 

He is determined to compel Europe to revisit the spheres of influence formula, with Russia gaining in the process a key vote on the Continent’s security and economic issues going forward.

Russia’s military buildup along Ukraine’s borders, already about one hundred seventy-five thousand strong and counting, is Putin’s unequivocal message to the United States and its European allies that Moscow is determined to use all political, economic, and military means at its disposal to carve out an undisputed sphere of influence reconstituted around the Eastern Slavic core of the former Russian empire

In this design, the Russian Federation – understood as the home of the Great Russians – will control and/or directly incorporate the White Russians (Belarusians) and the Little Russians (Ukrainians).  

For Putin, this neo-imperial domain will serve as the unquestioned sphere of Russian domination, with the rest of Europe transformed into a space where Moscow’s interests and priorities must be always considered. 

In this design, the United States and its allies would have to accept that NATO would never enlarge further East. 

Putin seems certain that crosscurrents within NATO and differences among the allies when it comes to such fundamentals as energy policy and rearmament have created an opportunity for him to play hardball and succeed

He seems certain that geopolitics and geoeconomics, in Europe and worldwide, have presently aligned in Russia’s favor.

The last three post-Cold War decades were an unprecedented era of peace, stability, and growth in Central Europe, bringing about a rapid modernization of the Baltic-to-the-Black-Sea corridor.  

These changes were facilitated by two interrelated phenomena post-1991: first, the physical expulsion of Russian military power from the region; second, the attendant anchoring of post-communist Europe in the transatlantic security system. 

The first condition was the sine qua non of this transformation, i.e., thirty years ago for the first time since 1945 Russia, lost the capacity to compete for influence in Europe. 

The enlargement of NATO and the follow-on extension of the European Union to the East proved transformational, for they put paid to the fear that those states would find themselves in a “grey zone,” a post-Soviet “no-man’s-land” of Zwischeneuropa that would breed instability and conflict.

Russia’s Use of State Power in Europe

Putin decided already in 2004 to set aside talk of cooperating with the West. Instead, he put in place policies aimed and returning Russia to European politics, not in any institutional sense but through the direct application of state power. 

The two cycles of Russian military modernization completed against the backdrop of a rapidly disarming Europe eager to cash in on the “end of history” have skewed the balance in key defense capabilities along the Eastern flank in Russia’s favor. 

Putin’s decision in 2008 to push Russian troops into Abkhazia and South Ossetia, severing these provinces from Georgia, and then in 2014 to seize Crimea from Ukraine followed by an irredentist war for the country’s Eastern provinces have effectively shut down further NATO enlargement to the East. 

Inviting these countries to join the alliance would in effect mean that NATO members would be asked to vote for going to war with Russia

It is telling as to how confident Putin has been of late that the West will concede to his spheres of influence demand that, even though NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine has been all but foreclosed through previous direct Russian military action, he now demands the West to publicly acknowledge his win.

Russia has “re-entered” European politics not only through the exercise of military power. 

The country has also adroitly used the energy weapon, leveraging its vast natural gas resources in the context of the European Union’s decision to move to “clean energy.” 

Notwithstanding ongoing debates in the EU over whether nuclear power qualifies as a clean energy source, natural gas has been widely accepted as such and treated as a gateway to renewables. 

Here the Russian-German Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines have put Moscow in a unique position to become the largest supplier of energy to Europe, in the process making Germany into the largest distributor of Russian gas. 

Today, regardless of how the European Union evolves – whether it continues as a confederation of sovereign European states or shifts towards federalism – once the second pipe becomes fully operational, Moscow’s direct engagement with Berlin on energy will give Putin a strong hand in European politics going forward.

The Timing of Putin’s Strategy

As military pressure along Ukraine’s borders builds, Putin seems to have concluded that the time is finally ripe to cut through the gordian knot that has been the continued existence of a pro-Western Ukraine in the seven years since the initial invasion of Donetsk and Luhansk. 

For the US and its allies, the question is understandably first and foremost about whether Russian forces will crash through Ukraine’s borders yet again, as this raises the specter of a large-scale Russian-Ukrainian war that might pull others into it. 

Nevertheless, regardless of whether near-term Putin decides to move militarily into Ukraine or not, the key threat to European security is his primary goal of returning Russia to European politics as a great power, able to shape and influence the intra-European relationships and the overall transatlantic dynamic at will. 

Putin is betting that the United States, coming off two decades of an inconclusive Global War on Terror (America’s uncoordinated withdrawal from Afghanistan has been read in Moscow as a sign of US waning military competence) is not ready to respond decisively to his challenge in Europe. 

At least not until its Joint Force has been restructured away from CT operations and reformatted, retrained, and re-fitted for high-end great power state-on-state competition. 

He sees the lingering strains in transatlantic relations playing out in Russia’s favor. 

He also sees Brexit still rippling across the European Union as a moment of opportunity. 

Now that a quintessentially maritime power has departed, the bloc is more Continental and more “German” than at any time since the seventies.  

The Biden administration’s decision to drop the remaining sanctions on Nord Stream 2 was interpreted in Moscow that Washington has prioritized its relationship with Berlin, underscoring for Putin that his great power bilateralism is the way to go.

Much of how this Ukrainian crisis unfolds and whether it will or will not transform European politics and security rests on decisions taken by Germany’s new government. 

The Merkel government relied on a combination of political and economic means to manage its relationship with Moscow, eschewing all-out German rearmament. 

Olaf Scholz, the new Chancellor, spoke last summer of the need for a new Willy Brandt-style Ostpolitik towards Russia, emphasizing Berlin’s demand that Moscow adheres to the rules-based international order. 

It is too early to judge what Germany’s Russia policy will look like, and how effective it will be at reducing risks. 

Still, what makes the current situation different from the Brandt era is that during the Cold War Germany was negotiating from a position of military strength. 

Today, should Berlin recommit to providing the Bundeswehr with real exercised capabilities, it would send an unequivocal message that it is in fact ready to add military power to its Russian policy toolbox – something Berlin has thus far showed itself reluctant to do.

What Happens Next and the Stakes

As the Ukrainian crisis continues to unfold, one should bear in mind at all times that Putin’s overarching objective is not only to regather the old Russian Eastern Slavic imperial core but most importantly to compel the West to recognize de facto if not de jure Moscow’s sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. 

This is the underlying message in Putin’s demand that NATO rescinds its 2008 pledge to admit Georgia and Ukraine into the alliance.  

If he gets his wish, this will have reversed the gains made by the West in the wake of the unification of Germany. 

Russia will dominate once again the region outside NATO’s Eastern flank (in the aftermath of Putin’s subjugation of Ukraine and de facto incorporation of Belarus into the Russian Federation, Moldova would likely lose its sovereignty as well).  

In effect, Europe would find itself back in a neo-imperial sphere of influence paradigm with potentially devastating consequences for NATO and allied solidarity. 

Last but not least, if NATO allows Putin to get away with this gamble, Moscow’s next step is likely to be pressuring the Baltic states, Poland and Romania, with the goal of breeding instability within NATO’s perimeter.

14. So Russian President Vladimir Putin, by himself, and United States President Joe Biden, surrounded by aides, finally had their secret video link conference for two hours and two minutes  @asiatimesonline 

We exist in a Tripolar World [US China and Russia] with rapidly emerging Middle Powers. 

I am not discounting Fortress Europe but one senses the Fortress is keener on a more defensive posture unlike the US [notwithstanding its withdrawal from Afghanistan], China and Russia. 

It's all garbage. If Biden can't stand up to Putin, Iran and China will just see him as a joke. @Kasparov63

No more State Dept blah-blah about "cooperation" with Putin's mafia dictatorship on Iran or triangulation against China. It's all garbage. If Biden can't stand up to Putin, Iran and China will just see him as a joke.

Therein lies the rub  @Kasparov63 @JoeBiden is in a Pincer with Xi & Vladimir holding the console & ratcheting up the pressure & [and] they own the timing on the Ukraine Taiwan Two Step

Therein lies the rub  @Kasparov63 @JoeBiden is in a Pincer with Xi & Vladimir holding the console & ratcheting up the pressure & Jaw Jaw and “coercive” sanctions are not going to make a jot of difference to either because they own the timing on the Ukraine Taiwan Two Step

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Taiwan and Ukraine are the immediate geopolitical flashpoints.
Law & Politics

5 DEC 16 :: The Parabolic Rebound of Vladimir Putin

So much has happened in 2016, from the Brexit vote to President-elect Trump, and it certainly feels like we have entered a new normal. 

One common theme is a parabolic Putin rebound. 

At this moment, President Putin has Fortress Europe surrounded. The intellectual father of the new Zeitgeist that propelled Brexit, Le Pen, the Five Star movement in Italy, Gert Wilders in the Netherlands, is Vladimir Putin.
In the Middle East, it is Putin who is calling the shots in Aleppo, and in a quite delicious irony it looks like he has pocketed Opec as well.
However, my starting point is the election of President Donald Trump because hindsight will surely show that Russia ran a seriously sophisticated programme of interference, mostly digital. Don DeLillo, who is a prophetic 21st writer, writes as follows in one of his short stories:
The specialist is monitoring data on his mission console when a voice breaks in, “a voice that carried with it a strange and unspecifiable poignancy”.
He checks in with his flight-dynamics and conceptual- paradigm officers at Colorado Command:
“We have a deviate, Tomahawk.”
“We copy. There’s a voice.”
“We have gross oscillation here.”
“There’s some interference. I have gone redundant but I’m not sure it’s helping.”
“We are clearing an outframe to locate source.”
“Thank you, Colorado.”
“It is probably just selective noise. You are negative red on the step-function quad.”
“It was a voice,” I told them.
“We have just received an affirm on selective noise... We will correct, Tomahawk. In the meantime, advise you to stay redundant.”
The voice, in contrast to Colorado’s metallic pidgin, is a melange of repartee, laughter, and song, with a “quality of purest, sweetest sadness”.
“Somehow we are picking up signals from radio programmes of 40, 50, 60 years ago.”

I have no doubt that Putin ran a seriously 21st predominantly digital programme of interference which amplified the Trump candidacy. POTUS Trump was an ideal candidate for this kind of support.
Trump is a linguistic warfare specialist. Look at the names he gave his opponents: Crooked Hillary, Lyin’ Ted, Little Marco, ‘Low-energy’ Jeb — were devastating and terminal. 

The first thing is plausible deniability 
The second thing is non-linearity, 
Beppe Grillo, the comic turned leader of the Five Star movement in Italy said: This is the deflagration of an epoch. It’s the apocalypse of this information system, of the TVs, of the big newspapers, of the intellectuals, of the journalists.”
He is right, traditional media has been disrupted and the insurgents can broadcast live and over the top. 

From feeding the hot-house conspiracy frenzy on line (‘’a constant state of destabilised perception’’), timely and judicious doses of Wikileaks leaks which drained Hillary’s bona fides and her turn-out and motivated Trump’s, what we have witnessed is something remarkable and noteworthy.
Putin has proven himself an information master, and his adversaries are his information victims.

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It was the first non-linear war," writes Surkov in a new short story, Without Sky
Law & Politics

ov added. Foreign governments were already paying close attention, since the Russian "political algorithm" had long predicted the volatility now seen in western democracies.

The underlying aim, Surkov says, is not to win the war, but to use the conflict to create a constant state of destabilised perception, in order to manage and control

5 OCT 15 :: Putin is a GeoPolitical GrandMaster

Putin fancies himself the fly-catcher and syria the fly-trap. 

The speed of execution confirms that Russia is once again a geopolitical actor that will have to be considered. It is a breath-taking rebound.

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It feels like a tipping point. Trust in @BorisJohnson is collapsing. It could be fatal So spoke a senior Tory @spectator @Peston
Law & Politics

'He daren’t have a press conference,' said an ex-minister. 'Because he knows every question would be about Downing Street Christmas parties and gold wallpaper. And to be clear, that’s his own fault, no one else’s.'

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We still cling with part of our minds to the infantile belief that the world was made for our gratification and pleasure and we combine this narcissism with an assumption of our own immortality, @BorisJohnson
Law & Politics

29-NOV-2021 ::  Regime Change

The Invisible Microbe has metastasized into Omicron and what we know is that COVID-19 far from becoming less virulent has become more virulent.
The transmissibility of #Omicron is not in question, it clearly has a spectacular advantage.

The Open Question is whether it is more virulent. If it is less virulent then #Omicron is breaking the Trend of increasing virulence.

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When a new SARS-CoV-2 variant arises, there are three main questions: (1) How transmissible? (2) How virulent? (3) How much antigenic change? Third question important as it’s the most actionable @jbloom_lab

When a new SARS-CoV-2 variant arises, there are three main questions: (1) How transmissible? (2) How virulent? (3) How much antigenic change? Third question important as it’s the most actionable: we can update vaccines & develop new antibodies.

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Arguably the laziest and most damaging cognitive error of the pandemic is not appreciating that lagged outcomes like deaths don’t reflect current threat in a rising epidemic. @AdamJKucharski

Arguably the laziest and most damaging cognitive error of the pandemic is not appreciating that lagged outcomes like deaths don’t reflect current threat in a rising epidemic. Remember: first UK COVID case was identified on 31 Jan 2020 - first death was reported on 5 Mar.

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COVID-19 infections are still rising in 57 countries. @ReutersGraphics

13 countries are still near the peak of their infection curve

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He tells us all will be well if we get boosted with a shot designed before this variant even emerged. I don't believe a word of it. @Nigel_Farage

From the PM who is a compulsive liar and can't comb his hair properly, a declaration of Omicron disaster.

He tells us all will be well if we get boosted with a shot designed before this variant even emerged. 

I don't believe a word of it.

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.1271
Dollar Index 96.475
Japan Yen 113.723
Swiss Franc 0.9236
Pound 1.3237
Aussie 0.7115
India Rupee 76.041
South Korea Won 1185.215
Brazil Real 5.6817
Egypt Pound 15.7096
South Africa Rand 16.0804

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A recent seroprevalence survey in Gauteng, where the omicron variant was first identified showed that 72% of population had a previous infection with the coronavirus, said Shabir Madhi, a vaccinologist at @FALAS_wits @business

That compares with about 20% when the beta variant emerged a year ago, said Madhi, who led trials of both AstraZeneca Plc’s and Novavax Inc.’s shots in South Africa.
“The evolution of the omicron variant is coming at a very different stage of the pandemic,” Madhi said in an interview with the Global Health Crisis Coordination Center. 

“That is important to keep at the back of our minds when we see what is unfolding in South Africa and what we might see in other settings, which might have a very different epidemiology.”

Official statistics don’t reflect the extent of the pandemic’s impact on South Africa, with just 3.2 million positive tests and about 90,000 deaths. 

Excess deaths, a measure of mortality compared with a historical average, show that about 275,000 people may have died from the disease.

“You have large pockets of population immunity,” Tulio de Oliveira, who runs two gene-sequencing institutes in South Africa, said in an interview with CBS News on Dec. 12. 

“We’re going to have to tease apart if the mild cases are due to young people getting infected or if the previous population immunity from infection and vaccination are responsible for decreasing the number of hospitalized individuals.”

About 6,000 people are in the hospital in South Africa with Covid-19, about a third of the number at the peak of the second and third waves of infection. Current daily cases are close to record levels.
“That could really be due to the fact that immunity in the country is high either from natural immunity, from past infection, or from vaccinations,” Barry Schoub, chairman of South Africa’s Ministerial Advisory Council on Vaccines, said in an interview with Sky News.

While omicron has, in early studies, shown that it can evade antibodies produced by vaccinations or previous infections more easily than previous variants, 

Madhi says immunity may stem from protection by T-Cells, which kill infected cells.
“In South Africa, there is seemingly significant population protection against severe Covid due to underpinning T-cell immunity, despite omicron being antibody evasive,” he said by text message.
Beta Variant
South Africa’s experience with omicron may once again raise the concept of so-called herd immunity, whereby enough of the population has been vaccinated or had a previous infection to blunt the impact of waves of infection. 

Still, the ability of the coronavirus to mutate and the different paths the pandemic has taken around the world may make that elusive.
“The data coming from South Africa are indeed very encouraging,” said Sam Fazeli, senior pharmaceutical industry analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence.  

“Let’s not forget that South Africa had a wave of infections with the beta variant, which was not seen elsewhere. This may make a difference to the response to omicron.”

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A few other African countries have also seen a rapid rise in new COVID-19 cases @Rajeev_The_King

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

"With the number of new #COVID19 cases hitting record highs as rates double every five days, we cannot afford to drop our guard. We are entering the year-end holiday season of traditional gatherings." - Dr  @MoetiTshidi @WHOAFRO

"With the number of new #COVID19 cases hitting record highs as rates double every five days, we cannot afford to drop our guard. We are entering the year-end holiday season of traditional gatherings and travel, with vaccine coverage still disappointingly low." - Dr  @MoetiTshidi

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Tshisekedi’s inauguration reminds us of the importance, at least since the time of Mobutu, of projecting images of strength, of a strong man, as part of political leadership. 
In the DRC as elsewhere, leaders’ political power often lies, in part, in managing public perceptions (and therefore those of the political class) of that power. 
His predecessor, Kabila, was able to project an aura of power, largely through his silence. 
The rarity of his public appearances and speeches heightened the mystery surrounding him. 

All of this recalls an insight that the French historian and philosopher Michel Foucault, in a lecture at the Collège de France in February 1976, brought to understanding Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan, and in particular his notion of the “war of all against all.” 

This idea, Foucault argued, is not simply about the state of nature among human beings before the creation of the State. 
It persists even within the modern state itself. But, he warned, this is not a war with “weapons or fists,” nor “between savage forces that have been unleashed.” 
Instead, this is a war of appearances, designed to make believe (faire croire) in one’s strength: 

“There are presentations, manifestations, signs, emphatic expressions, wiles, and deceitful expressions; there are traps, intentions disguised as their opposite, and worries disguised as certainties. We are in a theater where presentations are exchanged, in a relationship of fear in which there are no time limits; we are not really involved in a war.”

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According to a projection (2016) the population of Kinshasa will increase significantly, to 35 million by 2050, 58 million by 2075 and 83 million by 2100.

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Kenya Economic Update @WorldBankKenya
Kenyan Economy

After contracting by 0.3 percent in 2020, real gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 5.3 percent year-on-year (y/y) in the first half (H1) of 2021, supported by rebounds in industry and, especially, services. 

Agricultural output, however, has fallen (by 0.5 percent y/y in H1 2021) following a particularly strong performance in 2020, due partly to below-average rains.

Real GDP is expected to have grown by 5.0 percent in 2021 as a whole.

For the first quarter of the current fiscal year (FY2021/22), revenue collection increased to 3.8 percent of annual GDP, an improvement of 0.5 percentage points compared to the same period a year earlier, with value added tax ( VAT ) and personal income tax growing the most, supported by the economic recovery. 

Real GDP growth of 4.9 percent per year on average is projected over 2022–23, similar to the pre-pandemic pace (5.0 percent average annual growth, 2010-19). 

This outlook takes into account that some sub-sectors have bounced back strongly (e.g., education), but others only partially and face a much more protracted recovery (e.g., international tourism).

A second key domestic risk factor stems from the drought conditions which are affecting parts of the country and already causing severe hardship. Should the drought intensify or spread, this would weigh on the near-term economic outlook.

There are over 138,000 formal establishments in Kenya, and 7.4 milion micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). 

Among formal firms, only three percent have 50 or more employees, and only one percent of firms have 150 or more employees. 

The majority of MSMEs (94 percent) are unlicensed micro firms, with fewer than five employees. 

Nairobi hosts 36 percent of formal firms, and 14 percent of MSMEs. 

The services sector dominates the firm landscape: some 84 percent of formal firms and 83 percent of MSMEs are in the services sector. 

The economic recovery in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) remains generally weak as low rates of vaccination continue to weigh on activity and confidence. The region’s output is expected to expand by 3.3 percent in 2021

Services sector value-added rose by 9.2 percent y/y in H1 2021 compared to a contraction of 1.5 percent in H1 2021. 

All services subsectors, except accommodation and food services, reverted to making a positive contribution to economic growth in H1 2021, signaling growing normalization of economic activities in the sector 

Education subsector value-added surged to well above pre-pandemic levels, recording an exceptionally large increase of 34.6 percent y/y in H1 2021, contributing over a quarter to GDP growth. 

This oversized contribution by education value-added to GDP growth partly reflects a large base effect, as all educational institutions were shut down in March 2020.

The industrial sector has recorded a broad-based recovery. Value-added in the manufacturing and utilities (electricity, gas and water supply) sub-sectors reversed contractions in H1 2020 to expand by 5.4 percent y/y and 3.5 percent y/y in H1 2021.

The GDP rebasing revealed that Kenya’s economy is bigger than previously estimated. Nominal GDP in 2019 is now estimated at US$100.5 billion, up from US$95.5 billion before rebasing, with revised GDP per capita standing at US$2,113 (up from US$2,008) in 2019.

The rebasing reveals that historical GDP growth rates are lower than previously estimated  

The rebased GDP series shows that over the last decade real GDP expanded by an annual average of 5.0 percent, 0.8 percentage points lower than the previous estimate. 

This is significant new information, since it affects calculations around the economy’s potential growth rate in the future. 

From the policy perspective, it implies that more concerted efforts will be required to lift growth to well above the rate of population growth (about 2.3 percent) and achieve sustained development gains (e.g., 5 percent annual average output growth or higher).

As a result, the share of agricultural output falls to 21.2 percent of nominal GDP in 2019, compared with 34.1 percent previously. 

Agriculture clearly remains the cornerstone of the economy (including being the basis for the majority of livelihoods and generating critical foreign currency earnings), but its relative contribution is less outsized than it appeared before and more in line with the average for lower middle- income economies globally (15 percent in 2019).

As a result, the deficit in the trade of goods and services stood at 9.8 percent of GDP in the first nine months of 2021 (larger than 8.7 percent in 2020), elevating the current account deficit to 5.6 percent of GDP in the year to September 2021, from 4.9 percent in 2020. 

Total credit to the private sector was up by 7.8 percent y/y in October 2021 

The fiscal deficit widened from 7.5 percent in FY 2019/20 to 8.2 percent of GDP in FY2020/21 and the debt to GDP ratio rose from 63.0 percent in FY 2019/20 to 68.2 percent in FY2020/21 

In terms of composition, just over half of Kenya’s total public debt stock was external (52.1 percent in FY2020/21). 

Domestic debt servicing is more than double that of external debt due to higher domestic interest rates, although the latter, while cheaper, is subject to exchange rate risk

The future course of the pandemic continues to constitute the main downside risk to the economic outlook. 

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

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